The king of Jordan poured cold water on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s hopes that neighboring Arab countries could take in Palestinian refugees who are fleeing the Gaza Strip ahead of an anticipated ground offensive by the Israeli army.
The rebuff by King Abdullah II was made Tuesday morning at a press conference with Scholz following a meeting in the chancellery in Berlin, which Scholz also used to issue a warning to Iran and to Hezbollah against intervening in the Israel-Hamas conflict.
“I think I can speak here on behalf of Jordan … but also our friends in Egypt: This is a red line … no refugees to Jordan and also no refugees to Egypt,” King Abdullah said at the press conference.
The remarks come just ahead of a trip by Scholz to Israel and Egypt, where the chancellor hopes to de-escalate tensions and improve the situation for Palestinians seeking to flee the conflict zone. A main hope for Scholz and other Western leaders is that Egypt could open its border with Gaza to allow in refugees.
However, the Jordanian king downplayed the likelihood of such an event: “This is a situation that has to be handled within Gaza and the West Bank. And you don’t have to do it on the shoulders of others.”
Following the violent attack by Hamas on Israel, during which it killed more than 1,300 people, Israel told civilians to evacuate the north of the Gaza Strip as it may launch a ground offensive in a bid to eradicate Hamas and free hostages.
Scholz is heading to Israel on Tuesday to express his solidarity with the country. The chancellor will continue to Egypt on Tuesday evening, and is scheduled to meet President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on Wednesday morning.
“It is imperative that the suffering civilian population, who are being used as human shields by Hamas, receives humanitarian aid,” Scholz said at the press conference, adding that “the Palestinians are not Hamas … the Palestinian population is also a victim of Hamas.”
Scholz also issued a warning that the war must not escalate further: “I again specifically warn Hezbollah and Iran not to intervene in the conflict.”