President Biden’s trip to Jordan has been canceled following the deadly hospital attack in Gaza, the White House said Tuesday when the president was leaving to head to Israel.
Biden was slated to travel to Jordan after visiting Israel amid its war with Hamas. A White House official said the Jordan portion was canceled after consulting with King Abdullah II, whom the president was supposed to meet with, along with Palestinian 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.