Blinken meets Jordan’s king

us secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) meets with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Amman, Jordan Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024.
us secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) meets with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Amman, Jordan Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024. AP

AMMAN, Jordan — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024, with Jordan’s king and foreign minister and visited a World Food Program warehouse in Amman as he pressed ahead with an urgent Middle East diplomatic mission to prevent Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza from spreading.

On his fourth visit to the region in three months, Blinken stressed the need for Israel to adjust its military operations to reduce civilian casualties and significantly boost the amount of humanitarian aid reaching Gaza while highlighting the importance of preparing detailed plans for the post-conflict future of the territory, which has been decimated by intensive Israeli airstrikes and ground offensives.

After a day of talks with Turkish and Greek leaders in Istanbul and Crete, Blinken met Sunday with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi seeking buy-in for US efforts to tamp down resurgent fears that the three-month-old war could engulf the region, ramp up aid deliveries to Gaza and prepare for the eventual end of hostilities.

Jordan and other Arab states have been highly critical of Israel’s actions and have eschewed public support for long-term planning, arguing that the fighting must end before such discussions can begin. They have been demanding an immediate ceasefire since mid-October as civilian casualties began to skyrocket. Israel has refused and the US has instead called for specified temporary “humanitarian pauses” to allow aid to get in and people to get to safety.

Blinken also toured the World Food Program’s Regional Coordination warehouse in the Jordanian capital where trucks are being packed with aid to be delivered to Gaza through both Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings.

The US has been pressing Israel for weeks to let greater amounts of food, water, fuel, medicine and other supplies into Gaza, and the United Nations (UN) Security Council passed a resolution on Dec. 22 calling for an immediate increase in deliveries. Three weeks ago, Israel opened Kerem Shalom, adding a second entry point for aid into Gaza after Rafah.

Still, the rate of trucks entering has not risen significantly. This week, an average of around 120 trucks a day entered through Rafah and Kerem Shalom, according to UN figures, far below the 500 trucks of goods going in daily before the war and far below what aid groups say is needed.

Almost the entire population of 2.3 million depends on the trucks coming across the border for their survival. One in four Palestinians in Gaza is starving, and the rest face crisis levels of hunger, according to the UN.

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