Jordan’s foreign minister voiced doubt yesterday that Israel could reach its goal of obliterating Hamas with its heavy bombardment and invasion of the Gaza Strip long dominated by the Palestinian movement.
“Israel says it wants to wipe out Hamas. There’s a lot of military people here, I just don’t understand how this objective can be realised,” Ayman Safadi said at the annual IISS Manama Dialogue security conference in Bahrain.
Israel vowed to wipe out Hamas since its October first week cross-border storming into nearby Israeli communities. Israel has bombed much of Gaza City to rubble as it has subdued the north of the enclave and turned to stepping up attacks on Hamas in the south.
Regional power Saudi Arabia called at the conference for an immediate Israeli-Hamas ceasefire. “We are seeing civilians dying every day. And we need to end that today, not tomorrow,” said Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan. Hamas has vowed a long and sustained battle against Israel.
Brett McGurk, US President Joe Biden’s top adviser on the Middle East, told the Manama conference that the release of hostages held by Hamas would lead to a surge in the delivery of humanitarian aid and a significant pause in fighting in Gaza.
Former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal said a long-time failure to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict had spawned the current crisis.
“We...must consider that war is also an indication of political and diplomatic failure of the international community; all of us have failed solving this problem,” he said. “And the responsibility falls on all of us to find a solution.” Israel’s blitz of Gaza has raised questions among world and regional powers and the UN over who would govern the densely populated territory at the end of the conflict.
Only the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Western-backed entity that exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, could run Gaza after the Israel-Hamas war is over, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.
“Hamas cannot be in control of Gaza any longer,” Borrell told the Manama Dialogue, an annual conference on foreign and security policy. “So who will be in control of Gaza? I think only one could do that — the Palestinian Authority.” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said the PA could play a role in administering Gaza if there was a full political solution — moves towards Palestinian statehood on lands Israel has occupied since 1967 — that also encompassed the West Bank.
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been frozen since 2014.
A senior official from the United Arab Emirates, which reached a US-brokered normalisation accord with Israel in 2020, warned that a drawn-out Gaza conflict could breed radicalisation across the wider Middle East.
“The longer the crisis takes, the more danger we have of the crisis spiralling out of control and I think we have to be very, very careful,” said Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to the UAE president.
Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi speaks during the IISS Manama Dialogue security conference in Bahrain, yesterday.
Palestinians fleeing Gaza City and other parts of northern Gaza, carry some belongings as they walk along a road leading to the southern areas of the enclave on November 18, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)
Yemenis march during a rally to show solidarity with Palestinians yesterday.
Palestinians gather as others search for casualties at the site of an Israeli strike, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip November 18, 2023. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa