Egypt’s Sisi, Jordan king condemn ‘collective punishment’ in Gaza

Egypt’s Sisi, Jordan king condemn ‘collective punishment’ in Gaza

CAIRO (AFP): Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II condemned the “collective punishment” of Palestinians in Gaza as they met in Cairo for talks on the Israel-Hamas war.

Ahead of the meeting, the Jordanian royal court said Sisi and King Abdullah would “discuss means to stop the Israeli aggression on Gaza”.

In separate statements issued later, the Egyptian presidency and the royal court said the two leaders “affirmed their unified position rejecting the policy of collective punishment in the siege, starvation or displacement” of Palestinians.

Israel has been carrying out air and artillery strikes on Gaza since Hamas gunmen unleashed a massive attack on communities in southern Israel on October 7 that Israeli officials say killed more than 1,400 people, mainly civilians.

The Hamas-controlled health ministry says the Israeli strikes have killed 3,478 people in the besieged Palestinian enclave, also mostly civilians.

A siege imposed by Israel has deprived the territory’s 2.4 million people of food, water, electricity and fuel as the United Nations warns of an increasingly dire humanitarian situation.

Sisi and King Abdullah warned of regional spillover.

“If the war does not stop”, it would threaten “to plunge the entire region into catastrophe”, according to the Jordanian statement.

The pair had been due to hold talks with US President Joe Biden and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Jordan this week, but Jordan cancelled the meeting after a deadly strike on a Gaza hospital.

Their meeting comes on the same day that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected in Cairo.

In a meeting with UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly in Cairo on Thursday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry discussed “the priority of delivering humanitarian and emergency aid to the people of Gaza”, according to the foreign ministry.

Sisi also discussed “the situation in Gaza” with US Central Command chief Michael Kurilla, his office said Thursday.

Egypt and Jordan were the first Arab states to normalise relations with Israel, in 1979 and 1994 respectively, and have since been key mediators between Israeli and Palestinian officials.