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20 Oct, 2023 14:28

Palestinian leader rejected Biden phone call – media

Mahmoud Abbas reportedly turned down a US request to talk following the bombing of a hospital in Gaza
Palestinian leader rejected Biden phone call – media

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas refused to hold a phone call with US President Joe Biden during the latter’s visit to Israel on Wednesday, Israeli state media reported on Friday.

Citing a Palestinian source in the West Bank, the Kan news agency said that Biden’s team had attempted to arrange a conversation between the leaders, but Abbas rejected the request.

Biden and Abbas did speak by phone on Saturday, with the US president pledging to support efforts to “bring urgently needed humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people,” according to a readout of the call provided by the White House.

The two leaders were set to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Jordan on Wednesday. However, the summit was canceled by the Jordanian side after a deadly explosion at the al-Ahli Arab Hospital hospital in Gaza the night before.

The Israelis and Palestinians blamed each other for the blast, which the Palestinian Health Ministry claimed killed around 500 people. Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi sided with the Palestinians, accusing Israel of attacking the hospital in what he called “a heinous war crime.” 

With the summit scrapped, Biden spent Wednesday in Israel, where he publicly endorsed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that the hospital was hit by a wayward Palestinian rocket.

Egypt will host a summit in Cairo on Saturday to address the ongoing war. Abbas is expected to attend, along with multiple Gulf and European leaders, and representatives from the EU. American and Israeli officials will not attend the gathering.