Cancellation of Summit with Arab Leaders as President Biden Visits Israel

by Andrew Wright
Biden Middle East Visit

President Joe Biden’s initiative to defuse escalating hostilities in the war between Israel and Hamas experienced significant setbacks prior to his departure for the Middle East on Tuesday. Jordan canceled a planned summit with Arab leaders in response to a devastating explosion at a hospital in Gaza, resulting in hundreds of fatalities.

Consequently, Biden’s itinerary will now solely include Israel, deferring his planned visit to Jordan, according to an official White House announcement made as the President left.

The decision to delay the summit in Amman followed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s withdrawal from the scheduled meetings. He was protesting against the attacks, which the Health Ministry in Gaza, run by Hamas, attributed to an Israeli airstrike. However, the Israeli military denied involvement, blaming the incident on a misfired Palestinian rocket instead.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, speaking to the state-run al-Mamlaka TV, declared that the ongoing war and aggression were bringing the region to the edge of chaos. He stated that Jordan would host the summit only once all parties could agree on its purpose—ceasing hostilities, respecting Palestinian human rights, and delivering deserved aid.

During his flight, President Biden expressed his deep sadness and outrage at the explosion at the Al Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza and the resulting loss of life. He noted that upon learning of the news, he immediately consulted with King Abdullah II of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Biden emphasized the United States’ unwavering commitment to protecting civilian life in conflicts.

The cancellation of the Jordanian segment of Biden’s trip reflects a deteriorating situation that will challenge the scope of American influence in the Middle East, particularly during his upcoming visit on Wednesday.

Underscoring his willingness to engage in fraught international situations, Biden’s decision to visit a conflict zone follows his unexpected visit to Ukraine earlier this year. It marks another high-stakes diplomatic endeavor, reaffirming his belief in the United States’ central role on the global stage and the effectiveness of personal diplomacy.

Experts like Jon Alterman, Senior Vice President at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, point out that Biden’s approach indicates his particular philosophy on how politics operates and history unfolds.

The mounting humanitarian crisis in Gaza comes in the backdrop of a previous attack by Hamas on October 7, which resulted in more than 1,400 Israeli deaths and initiated the ongoing conflict. Aid has yet to reach the region, exacerbating the suffering of civilians, hospitals, and aid groups.

Tensions have also spilled over Israel’s northern border involving skirmishes with Hezbollah, the Iran-backed group based in Southern Lebanon, fueling concerns of a widening conflict.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, shuttling between Arab and Israeli leaders before Biden’s arrival, managed to get Israel’s approval for a plan on delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza. This marks a shift in Israel’s initial position of keeping Gaza isolated from essential supplies like fuel, electricity, and water.

Despite broad domestic support in the U.S. for his stance on Israel, Biden faces uncertainties regarding additional aid provisions. Nevertheless, he maintains his commitment to both Israel and Ukraine, highlighting the capacity and obligation of the United States to intervene in such matters.

In the coming days, Biden is set to meet Israeli officials including Prime Minister Netanyahu. His original plans to engage with King Abdullah II of Jordan, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have been abandoned.

The long-standing Israel-Palestinian conflict involves leaders like Netanyahu, Abbas, and King Abdullah II, who have been in power for extended periods, complicating diplomatic endeavors. Neither Egypt nor Jordan, facing their own economic challenges, are eager to accommodate refugees, further complicating the geopolitical landscape.

Amidst these complexities, the human toll continues to rise. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, Israeli strikes have resulted in at least 2,700 deaths and more than 9,700 injuries, with nearly two-thirds being children. Moreover, an estimated 1,200 people in Gaza are believed to be trapped under debris, either alive or deceased. More than half of Gaza’s population has been displaced, increasing the urgency for a resolution.

The report was contributed by Big Big News writers Josh Boak in Washington, Josef Federman in Jerusalem, and Matthew Lee in Amman, Jordan.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about President Biden’s Middle East Diplomacy

What led to the cancellation of President Biden’s planned summit with Arab leaders?

The summit was called off by Jordan after a deadly explosion at a Gaza hospital, which resulted in a significant loss of life. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas also withdrew from the scheduled meetings in protest of the attacks.

Why is President Biden only visiting Israel now?

Due to the cancellation of the summit in Jordan, President Biden will only be visiting Israel as part of his trip to the Middle East. The White House made this announcement as President Biden departed for the region.

What did Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi say about the situation?

Ayman Safadi stated that the ongoing war and aggression are pushing the region to the brink. He added that Jordan would only host the summit when all participants could agree on its purpose: to stop the war and deliver the aid that the Palestinians deserve.

What is President Biden’s stance on the explosion at the Gaza hospital?

President Biden released a statement expressing outrage and deep sadness over the explosion and loss of life at the Al Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza. He emphasized the U.S. stance for the protection of civilian life during conflict.

What challenges are mediating parties facing in providing humanitarian aid to Gaza?

There has been no delivery of water, fuel, or food to Gaza since the onset of the conflict, complicating efforts to provide essential supplies. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had meetings in Tel Aviv in an effort to broker some kind of aid agreement.

How are U.S. officials viewing the escalating situation?

U.S. officials have subtly shifted their message, maintaining support for Israel while increasingly emphasizing the need for humanitarian assistance in Gaza. They are concerned that limited Arab tolerance for Israel’s military actions would entirely evaporate if conditions worsen.

What are the security concerns for Biden’s travels to the region?

The trip comes with high security risks, as previous visits by U.S. officials have been disrupted by rocket launches into Israel. Any additional Israeli airstrikes could prompt further condemnation, complicating Biden’s diplomatic efforts.

What is the economic situation in countries like Egypt and Jordan in relation to the conflict?

Egypt and Jordan are facing economic challenges and neither wants to absorb refugees. The International Monetary Fund issued a report stating that both countries stand at the brink of a debt crisis.

How many people have been affected in Gaza due to the ongoing conflict?

Israeli strikes have killed at least 2,700 people and wounded more than 9,700 in Gaza, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Nearly half of Gaza’s population has fled their homes, and tens of thousands are in a confined area south of the evacuation zone.

What are the long-term implications of this conflict for regional stability?

The ongoing conflict raises concerns of a spiraling situation that could stretch beyond the borders of Gaza. There have already been skirmishes on Israel’s northern border with Hezbollah, increasing fears that a broader regional conflict might erupt.

More about President Biden’s Middle East Diplomacy

  • Biden’s Middle East Diplomacy: A Deep Dive
  • Jordan Cancels Summit with Arab Leaders
  • U.S. Diplomatic Efforts in the Israel-Hamas Conflict
  • Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas Withdraws from Summit
  • Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza: An Overview
  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s Diplomatic Efforts
  • Economic Struggles of Egypt and Jordan Amid Conflict
  • Rising Death Toll and Displacement in Gaza
  • Regional Stability Concerns Amid Israel-Hamas Conflict

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JohnDoe October 18, 2023 - 10:01 am

Wow, this is a pretty thorough report. Things are getting super tense over there, and it looks like Biden’s got a real mess to navigate. What’s the end game here?

EmilyS October 18, 2023 - 6:45 pm

I can’t believe the summit was cancelled. I thought that was a big opportunity for some diplomatic progress. Missed opportunities smh.


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