Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi dismissed the possibility that troops from regional Arab countries could be used to police Gaza after the war to prevent the resurgence of Hamas and provide overall security for Palestinians.
“There will be no Arab troops going to Gaza, none,” Safadi said on Saturday as he addressed the British-based International Institute for Strategic Studies annual Manama Dialogue in Bahrain.
He spoke as Israel’s allies, primarily the United States, have debated the question of how to organize a security architecture for Gaza once the Israel-Hamas war there ends.
Who controls Gaza?
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that Israel must indefinitely maintain security control of Gaza in the aftermath of the war to prevent any resurgence of Hamas in the coastal enclave.
The Biden administration has insisted that the IDF can only temporarily retain control until such time as a security architecture will be established there.
Safadi clarified on Saturday that the Arab armies won’t participate in any plan to police Gaza.
“We are not going to be seen as the enemy” in Palestinian eyes, he stated.
A plan to station Arab troops in Gaza after the war sends Israel the message that it has free rein to destroy the enclave, Safadi said.
“By entertaining that, we are telling the Israeli government do whatever you want, go destroy Gaza, no one is stopping you and once you are done, we will go clean your mess,” Safadi said.
“There is a catastrophe happening” in Gaza that “has to stop for the sake of the Palestinians, for the safe of Israel, for the sake of the whole region to be able to live in peace,” Safadi stated.
“The war has to stop and it has to stop immediately,” he said.
The cost of human life
The international community has increased its calls for a ceasefire in light of Hamas assertions that over 11,000 Palestinians have been killed in war-related violence in Gaza, including over 4,000 children.
The war was sparked by the Hamas killing of over 1,200 people and its seizure of over 239 hostages when it infiltrated southern Israel on October 7.
Israel has insisted that it won’t halt the war until it has ousted Hamas from Gaza.
Safadi said that the destruction of Hamas is an impossible goal.
“Israel says it wants to wipe out Hamas,” Safadi stated. But “Hamas is an idea. You cannot bomb an idea out of existence. You aren’t happy with what Hamas is doing, convince them that they have a future. Reality has shown that the Palestinian people have nothing left to lose in the West Bank and Gaza,” he stressed.
Safadi rejected attempts by Israelis and others to compare Hamas to ISIS, due to the cruelty of the October 7 attack during which victims were burned alive, dismembered and raped.
“You cannot compare Hamas to ISIS. We all condemn the killing on October 7, but those broader characterizations seem to ignore the fact that Hamas did not create the conflict, the conflict created Hamas. Hamas is there because there is an occupation that is denying Palestinians their rights,” he said.
Safadi blamed the October 7 attack on the absence of any peace process that might lead to a two-state solution, while attempting to create regional peace by skipping over the need for Palestinian statehood.
“For years we have been warning about the absence of a political horizon. For years we have warned that the blockage of any horizon to resolving the Palestinian conflict will drag us to this moment,” he said.
The war is a result of a “fallacy of assuming you can parachute over the Palestinian issue to create regional peace,” he said.
“Tell me who is talking about any regional project at this point, it’s all about war, because there is an [Israeli] occupation that has not ended and there are no prospects of ending it,” Safadi stated.
If anything, he said, there is now a danger of Palestinian displacement from Gaza.
He could not help but note, Safadi said, that Israel’s war on Gaza was consistent with statements by Israeli politicians, including Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and Public Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.
They have said “The only way to move forward is to kick the Palestinians out of their ancestral land and to wipe the Palestinians off the face of the earth,” he said.
Moving forward, he said, the war must be stopped and a two-state solution created, that unites both the West Bank and Gaza.
“Israel will not have security until the Palestinians have security. The whole region will not have security if this conflict is not solved,” Safadi said. There has to be “peace and two states between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. Without that we will be in this over and over and over again,” he stressed.