Arab leaders cancel summit with Biden after Gaza hospital explosion

As Biden lands in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority all cancel planned meetings with the president, forcing Biden to nix trip to Jordan.

By David Rosenberg, World Israel News

President Joe Biden arrived in Israel Wednesday morning for meetings with regional leaders, only to be snubbed ahead of a planned summit in Jordan.

Air Force One touched down at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport just before 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, marking Biden’s first visit to Israel since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned to office last December.

Biden was greeted on the tarmac by Netanyahu and Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

“Welcome Mr. President,” Herzog told his American counterpart. “God bless you for protecting the nation of Israel.”

Outside of Israel, however, leaders cancelled planned meetings with the American president, dropping out of a summit that was to have been held in Jordan.

Prior to his arrival, Biden had been scheduled to travel from Israel to Jordan for a summit with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

All three of the leaders cancelled their appearances and planned meetings with Biden, however, following a massive explosion at the al-Ahli Arab Baptist Hospital in Gaza City Tuesday night, killing hundreds.

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Hamas and Arab media outlets quickly accused the Israeli air force of bombing the hospital, though video footage released by the IDF and recordings from terrorists operating inside the Gaza Strip suggest the explosion was likely the result of a large rocket misfired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists.

The hospital explosion set off massive rioting across parts of eastern Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Jordan, Lebanon, and parts of Turkey, where rioters shot fireworks at the Israeli embassy and attempted to break into an American military facility.

During Biden’s flight to Israel, White House National Security Council adviser John Kirby told reporters on Air Force One that the president “wants to get a sense from the Israelis on the situation on the ground” and will “ask some tough questions” of Israel’s leaders, adding “he’ll be asking them as a friend.”

President Biden said he was “outraged and deeply saddened by the explosion at the Al Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza, and the terrible loss of life that resulted.”

“The United States stands unequivocally for the protection of civilian life during conflict and we mourn the patients, medical staff and other innocents killed or wounded in this tragedy.”

According to reports in Hebrew media outlets, the Israeli government agreed ahead of Biden’s arrival to allow symbolic humanitarian aid into the southern Gaza Strip, towards a safe-zone established for civilians, with the understanding that more aid will be permitted at a later date.