Jordan's king says immediate ceasefire in Gaza needed to avert humanitarian catastrophe

Jordan's King Abdullah II speaks during his meeting with officials in Amman

By Suleiman Al-Khalidi

AMMAN (Reuters) - Jordan's King Abdullah said on Sunday the international community should push for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza to stop a humanitarian catastrophe caused by what he termed Israel's "ugly war against civilians".

In remarks made during a meeting with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, the monarch said global powers should force Israel to comply with international law to protect civilians and ensure Israel heeds calls to allow uninterrupted flow of aid into the enclave.

Israel launched its offensive after the militant Hamas groups' Oct. 7 rampage inside Israel.

But Abdullah said Israel was not acting in self-defence, as it maintains, by "indiscriminate strikes" that killed thousands of civilians risking a wider conflict that would fuel radicalism for years to come.

The monarch, who has lobbied Western leaders since the start of Israel's military campaign, has criticized the West's unwillingness so far to call for an end to hostilities, saying Palestinians lives appeared to matter less than Israelis.

"Gazan families being bombed out of their homes are victims of this collective punishment, with no place to take shelter. No hospital, no school and no U.N. building is safe any longer," the monarch said in an op-ed last Tuesday published in the Washington Post.

Abdullah said only a sovereign Palestinian state on land that Israel had captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, where Palestinians would live in dignity alongside Israel, would bring real peace.

"An Israeli leadership that is unwilling to take the path of peace on the basis of the two-state solution will not be able to provide its people the security they need," the monarch said in the article.

Separately, Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi left on Sunday to China in the first leg of a tour by a ministerial delegation set up by the Arab-Islamic summit that also includes Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia, Turkey and Palestine, among others.

The delegation, who will meet senior officials representing the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, will pile pressure on Western powers still resisting a call for an immediate ceasefire, officials said.

"The aim is to show the humanitarian catastrophe that the war is creating and to expose the brutal Israeli crimes against civilians and repeated attacks on civilian targets and hospitals," said Sufain al Qudah, spokesperson of the Jordanian foreign ministry.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Alex Richardson)