The United States is negotiating a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip for at least six weeks as part of a broader deal between Israel and the radical Palestinian movement Hamas that also includes the release of hostages. US President Joe Biden announced this at a joint press conference after negotiations with King Abdullah II of Jordan in Washington.
The Hamas movement is recognized as terrorist in the US and EU.
“We are actively working for the peace, security and dignity of both the Palestinian and Israeli people,” the US President emphasized. According to Biden, the six-week truce in the Gaza Strip, which the United States is working on, could help, on the one hand, the release of Israeli hostages, and on the other, increase the volume of humanitarian aid for residents of the Gaza Strip. Such a temporary truce, Biden noted, could be the first step towards establishing lasting peace in the region.
Biden also called for the protection of civilians sheltering from fighting in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah near the border with Egypt. According to international humanitarian organizations, about one million three hundred thousand Palestinians have taken refuge in Rafah in recent days and weeks.
The US president again warned Israel against a ground invasion of the area “without a credible plan to provide security and support for the more than one million people who have taken refuge there.”
Israel was also warned against storming Rafah in a number of EU countries. Egypt has threatened to suspend the peace treaty with Israel.
King Abdullah II of Jordan, speaking at a press conference in Washington, called for an immediate end to the war in the Gaza Strip. “We cannot allow an attack on Rafah, a humanitarian disaster will surely follow,” he said. “We cannot stand by and allow this to continue. We need a lasting truce now. This war must end,” the Jordanian monarch said.
Jordan and other Arab states have been highly critical of Israel's actions and have refused to publicly support long-term planning for further action, insisting that this must be preceded by a cessation of hostilities. They have been demanding a ceasefire since mid-October last year, when the number of civilian casualties in Gaza began to rapidly rise.
The Biden administration has taken a tougher stance toward Israel recently, saying last week that Tel Aviv's response to the Hamas attack was “over the top.” Washington said it would not support any military operation launched in Rafah without due regard for the interests of the civilian population.
The Hamas and Islamic Jihad attack on southern Israel on October 7, 2023 killed approximately 1,200 people, mostly civilians. From 240 to 250 people, according to various sources, were taken hostage. According to the latest data, at least 130 people are still being held in Gaza. More than 30 of them are considered dead. In response to the jihadist attack, Israel launched a military operation in the Gaza Strip with the goal of completely destroying Hamas. According to the Palestinian side, 30 thousand residents of the sector were killed as a result of the Israeli offensive.