Palestinian President Calls on US to Stop Israel’s Military Operation in Rafah

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has emphasized that the United States holds the key to preventing Israel from launching attacks on Rafah, a southern Gaza city where more than a million people are seeking refuge.

Mr. Abbas, who governs parts of the occupied West Bank, expressed concerns that any assault on Rafah could trigger mass displacement of Palestinians in Gaza.

Israel has consistently threatened to conduct military operations in Rafah.

US President Joe Biden reaffirmed his stance on Rafah during a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday.

The US has maintained that it cannot endorse a large-scale Israeli military campaign in Rafah without a credible plan to safeguard civilians from harm.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Saudi capital Riyadh earlier, Mr Abbas – whose Palestinian Authority is not present in Gaza, which has been under Hamas rule since 2007 – urged the US to intervene.

“We appeal to the United States of America to ask Israel to stop the Rafah operation because America is the only country capable of preventing Israel from committing this crime,” he said, adding that only a “small strike” on Rafah would force the Palestinian population to flee the Gaza strip.

“The biggest catastrophe in the Palestinian people’s history would then happen.”

More than half of Gaza’s population is in Rafah and conditions in the overcrowded southern city are already dire, with displaced people there telling the BBC there was a lack of food, water and medication.

While the White House did not elaborate on what specifically Mr Biden’s latest comments to Mr Netanyahu were regarding the planning offensive in Rafah, national security spokesman John Kirby told the ABC network that Israel had agreed to listen to US concerns and thoughts before going in.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Riyadh where he will hold talks with Mr Abbas at the start of a new Middle East tour.

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