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Jordan presses US on Gaza ceasefire

AMMAN: Jordan’s king on Sunday urged the top US diplomat to push for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and end the humanitarian crisis brought on by three months of war.

King Abdullah II made the remarks to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is on a Middle East tour aiming to ensure Israel’s war on Gaza does not spread.

He told Mr Blinken that Washington had a major role to play in pressuring Israel into an immediate ceasefire and warned of the “catastrophic repercussions” of the continuation of the war in Gaza, which began on Oct 7 after a Hamas raid on Israel.

Israel’s subsequent air and ground assault had killed 22,835 Palestinians by Sunday, according to Palestinian health officials, including at least 113 killed and 250 others injured over the past 24 hours.

An Israeli air strike on a car near Rafah in southern Gaza on Sunday claimed the lives of two Palestinian journalists who were out reporting, according to health officials in Gaza and the journalists’ union there.

In Amman, King Abdullah reiterated “the important role of the United States in bringing pressure for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, protection of civilians, and guaranteeing delivery” of medical and humanitarian aid, a statement from the royal palace said.

Washington has twice exercised its veto at the United Nations Security Council over ceasefire calls, drawing outrage in the Arab world, and Mr Blinken has bypassed Congress to rush weapons to Israel.

‘US opposes forcible displacement’

During the meeting, the US secretary of state assured King Abdullah that Washington opposed the forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza or the occupied West Bank, as he hoped to kickstart talks on Gaza’s future.

Mr Blinken “stressed US opposition to the forcible displacement of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza and the critical need to protect Palestinian civilians in the West Bank from extremist settler violence,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.

Blinken is touring the region amid heightened fears Israel’s offensive against Palestinian Hamas militants in Gaza will spark a broader regional conflagration.

Mr Blinken arrived in Jordan late on Saturday and met King Abdullah on Sunday before traveling to Qatar. In Doha, Blinken will discuss efforts to free the more than 100 hostages still believed to be held by Hamas after an earlier agreement mediated by Qatar broke down, a senior State Department official said. Blinken was scheduled to end the day in the United Arab Emirates.

Eight Palestinians killed in West Bank

Meanwhile, an air strike, gunfire, and explosives across the occupied West Bank killed eight Palestinians and two Israelis on Sunday, officials on both sides said as violence surges in the territory.

Seven Palestinians were killed in an Israeli air strike in the area of Jenin refugee camp, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Israeli police said an officer was killed when her “vehicle… was hit by an explosive device” during a raid on the camp, adding that three other officers were wounded.

In a separate incident, a Palestinian man was killed by Israeli army fire in Abwein village north of Ramallah, said the health ministry.

Elsewhere in the Ramallah area, an Israeli civilian was shot dead, according to the army, which said forces were searching for the assailant.

The Israeli man was “killed adjacent to the British police junction” north of Ramallah, it said in a statement.

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