President Biden said on Monday that Israel should not proceed with a major ground offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah without a “credible plan” to protect more than one million people who are sheltering there.
Mr. Biden spoke after meeting at the White House with King Abdullah II of Jordan, a key figure in the push for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. It was the first face-to-face conversation between the two leaders since the Israel-Hamas war started.
“Many people there have been displaced — displaced multiple times, fleeing the violence to the north, and now they’re packed into Rafah exposed and vulnerable,” Mr. Biden said during an appearance with King Abdullah. “They need to be protected.”
The visit came as King Abdullah sought to shore up international support for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza that would permanently halt the fighting.
Mr. Biden has rejected the idea of a general cease-fire, saying Israel has a right to defend itself. But he has pushed for a pause in the fighting that could allow for the release of hostages held by Hamas and something “more enduring.”
Much of Jordan’s population is ethnically Palestinian, putting the country — a close U.S. ally that has a peace treaty with Israel — in a tricky position as it navigates the fallout from the war.
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