Egypt and Jordan have cautioned against any Israeli reoccupation in the Gaza Strip and called for displaced residents to be allowed to return to their homes. This appeal was made as the leaders of the Arab countries met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday. As Israel continues with its military campaign that is expected to last for months, the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority reiterated their rejection of plans to displace Palestinians from their homes. There has been a risk of displacement as a result of Israel’s war against Hamas, driving most Gaza residents southward towards the Egyptian border. Jordan is particularly concerned by the increased instability and attacks on Palestinians by Jewish settlers in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which it shares a border with.
The leaders stressed the need for a “decisive stance” from the international community to push for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. They also confirmed their complete rejection of any attempt to reoccupy parts of Gaza and emphasized the importance of enabling its people to return to their homes. The summit in Aqaba, Jordan, was also expected to discuss foreign funding needed to rebuild the devastated territory and a mechanism for electing officials to administer the strip within six months of a ceasefire deal. Moreover, Egypt, along with Qatar, has been involved in mediation efforts between Israel and Hamas to negotiate a new ceasefire in Gaza and the release of Israeli hostages captured by Hamas in October. These efforts have resumed following a pause after the killing of Hamas deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut.
Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has stated that after the war in Gaza, Israel would reserve freedom of operation for its army in the enclave but ruled out a return of Israeli settlements withdrawn in 2005. The Western-backed Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank. However, talks with Israel on a Palestinian state collapsed in 2014, and Hamas has ruled in Gaza since 2007 and is sworn to Israel’s destruction. Concerns have been raised about the overcrowding near the southern town of Rafah, where more than a million of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents are crammed into extremely crowded conditions.
The leaders emphasized that the fates of Gaza and the West Bank should not be separated, as they should be the basis of a future Palestinian state. It is clear that the situation in the region remains complex, with ongoing military campaigns, mediation efforts, and diplomatic talks. The international community and regional leaders are working to address these complexities and mitigate the humanitarian and political challenges in the region.