Egypt y Jordanthe two countries that flank Israel and share a border with Gaza and the occupied West Bank, have accelerated their diplomatic efforts in recent days to avoid being affected by the regional escalation unleashed by the war between Israel and Hamas. The monarchy announced the king’s visit this Thursday in a tweet Abdullah II of Jordan to Cairo, to deal with the Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah Al Sisi, “the means to end Israeli aggression against Gaza.” The meeting comes a day after the four-way summit planned in Amman, in which both leaders were expected to meet with US President Joe Biden; and the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.
King Abdullah II canceled the summit after a bombing at a Gaza hospital caused numerous deaths, mostly rrefugees seeking shelter in health facilities. The attack, whose authorship has not yet been clarified, provoked unanimous condemnation from the Arab world of the attacks by Israel, who they blame for the bombing.
Egypt and Jordan were the first Arab and regional countries to normalize relations with Israel, in 1979 and 1994 respectively. Cairo and Amman have trade deals with Israel and have acted as mediators in previous conflicts between the Hebrew Government and the Palestinian authorities. Both also host large numbers of Palestinian refugees from previous wars. It is estimated that more than a million Palestinians were forced into exile after the wars of 1948 and 1967, mostly taking refuge in Egypt, Jordan and Syria. These refugees and their descendants today number six million people who have never been able to return to their homes due to the territorial and bureaucratic blockade imposed by Israel.
Once again the refugee issue has put Israel’s two regional allies in check. Following the order of the Israeli army to force the displacement of 1.1 million Gazans to the south of the Strip, the Government of Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted on Egypt to welcome part of the refugees in the province of Sinai. Cairo has refused to take them in, fearing that it will be a permanent expulsion of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip. Their displacement could also move the conflict within its territory, since the Arab country shares a border with the Gaza Strip and southern Israel.
Jordan reiterated this week that Israeli pressure to force the Palestinian population to leave their homes is a “red line” for countries in the region. “This will lead the region to the hell of war… we have to put an end to this madness,” warned the Jordanian Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi, in a meeting with his Canadian counterpart. “The war is killing and displacing thousands of innocent Palestinians and will leave the region and the world facing the repercussions of an environment of destruction and despair created by Israel in Gaza,” he said. Days before, King Abdullah II tried to settle the issue: “There will be no refugees in Jordan, there will be no refugees in Egypt. The conflict must be resolved within Gaza and the West Bank,” he warned. Since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, tension has increased in the West Bank, which shares a border with Jordan, where Israeli troops and settlers have killed 72 Palestinians, while More than 120 have been detained. Abdullah II’s warning came a day after Iran and the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah party – allies of Hamas in the region – warned of “preventive” attacks against Israel and a response from the Muslim world in streets.