President Biden’s trip to Jordan has been cancelled following the deadly hospital attack in Gaza, the White House said on Tuesday while the president was en route from the White House to airport heading to Israel.
Biden was originally slated to travel to the kingdom after visiting Israel in the wake of its war with Hamas. A White House official said that the Jordan portion was cancelled after consulting with King Abdullah II, who the president was supposed to meet with along with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Egypt and Jordan both border Israel.
But protests erupted in the Middle East earlier Tuesday after a hospital in Gaza was hit, with authorities estimating hundreds of deaths, including patients who were seeking treatment amid heavy aerial bombardment by Israel over the last week.
“After consulting with King Abdullah II of Jordan and in light of the days of mourning announced by President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, President Biden will postpone his travel to Jordan and the planned meeting with these two leaders and President Sisi of Egypt,” a White House official said in a statement.
When news of the hospital being hit emerged, The Associated Press reported earlier Tuesday that a senior Palestinian official said that Abbas canceled on Biden in protest. Abbas heads the Palestinian Authority, which ruled Gaza before Hamas.
In a statement Tuesday evening, Biden weighed in for the first time about the hospital attack.
“The President sent his deepest condolences for the innocent lives lost in the hospital explosion in Gaza, and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded,” the official said, adding that Biden looks forward to meeting in person with the three leaders “soon” and plans to remain in regular contact “over the coming days.”
Biden left for Israel, where he is expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.