‘We reject the forced displacement’ in Gaza: Abbas tells Blinken in Jordan

Palestinian leader tells top US diplomat following Israeli order to evacuate Gaza civilians will lead to ‘second Nakba’.

Blinken and Abbas shake hands
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas [Thaer Ghanaim/PPO/AFP]

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that he “rejects the forced displacement” of Palestinians from Gaza, following Israel’s order for all of the enclave’s civilians to move to the south.

Abbas said at Friday’s meeting in Jordan’s capital Amman that such an event would constitute a “second Nakba”, referring to the mass displacement of Palestinians in the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

He also said that humanitarian corridors must be allowed in the blockaded coastal enclave immediately to prevent a humanitarian disaster, the report said.

Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor James Bays said Blinken was in Jordan to negotiate, not to ask for the cessation of hostilities.

“Blinken is expected to also travel to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt to make progress on the release of American captives held by Hamas and negotiate the safe exit of 500 to 600 US citizens or dual nationals currently in Gaza,” he said.

“The diplomatic trip is also aiming to avoid a regional escalation of the war. But not the cessation of hostilities. He is not saying Israel should stop the aggression on Gaza,” Bays added.

Earlier on Friday, Blinken met Jordan’s King Abdullah II who also called for “opening humanitarian corridors to allow for the entry of urgent medical and relief aid to Gaza, and protecting civilians and stopping the escalation and war on Gaza”, a statement from the royal court said.

Meanwhile, thousands of people gathered in Amman on Friday for a demonstration in support of Palestinians.

More than 10,000 people massed in the centre of the city near the Grand Husseini Mosque.

They held banners, reading: “The victory march will continue, solidarity with Palestine” and “Stand with Palestine, Liberated Palestine”.

There was a heavy police presence in the area, according to the AFP news agency.

Witnesses said police fired tear gas to halt about 500 demonstrators who had reached a security checkpoint outside Amman on a highway leading to a main border crossing with Israel.

Jordan is worried that a regional widening of violence arising from the Israel-Hamas war could have repercussions for itself given that a large percentage of its population is Palestinian.

Israel is in the middle of a war to “destroy” Hamas, an armed group that rules the Gaza Strip, after the Palestinian fighters stormed its southern border over the weekend and killed more than 1,300 people.

Israel has since been pounding Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, where 1,537 people have been killed.

The Israeli military said it has dropped 6,000 bombs on the Gaza Strip since October 7, nearly matching the number of bombs the US used in Afghanistan in one year.

Afghanistan is almost 1,800 times bigger than the besieged enclave.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies