Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected a phone call with US President Joe Biden during Biden’s visit to Israel, according to Israeli state media. The request for a conversation between the two leaders was made by Biden’s team but was turned down by Abbas, as reported by Kan news agency, citing a Palestinian source in the West Bank.
Despite the initial refusal, Biden and Abbas did eventually speak by phone on Saturday. The call, according to a readout provided by the White House, saw President Biden promising to support efforts in providing urgent humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people.
The planned meeting between the two leaders, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Jordan on Wednesday was canceled following a deadly explosion at the al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza. Both sides blamed each other for the blast, with the Palestinian Health Ministry claiming that the attack killed around 500 people. However, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi sided with the Palestinians, accusing Israel of committing a “heinous war crime.”
In the absence of the summit, Biden spent his day in Israel, publicly affirming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that the hospital was hit by a stray Palestinian rocket.
In an effort to address the ongoing war, Egypt has announced that it will host a summit in Cairo on Saturday. The gathering is expected to be attended by Abbas, as well as several Gulf and European leaders, and representatives from the European Union. Notably, both American and Israeli officials will not be in attendance.
The refusal of Abbas to initially take the call from Biden highlights the tense relations between the US and the Palestinian Authority. It also underscores the challenges faced in resolving the conflict in the region. The war has resulted in numerous casualties and has exacerbated the longstanding hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians.
The international community has called for an end to the violence and has emphasized the need for humanitarian aid to reach the affected Palestinian population. However, finding a lasting solution to the conflict remains elusive, with both sides entrenched in their positions and deep-rooted grievances.
As Egypt prepares to host the upcoming summit, hopes are high that it could provide a platform for dialogue and a potential breakthrough in the ongoing crisis. The involvement of multiple regional and international leaders signifies the importance attached to finding a peaceful resolution. However, the absence of American and Israeli officials from the gathering raises questions about the prospects for meaningful progress.
For now, the situation in the region remains volatile, with reports of continued violence and casualties on both sides. The refusal of Abbas to initially engage with Biden reflects the complexities and deep-seated animosity that hinder any meaningful dialogue. As the conflict persists, the urgent need for a comprehensive and enduring solution becomes increasingly apparent. The summit in Cairo holds the potential to address some of these challenges and chart a way forward.