sticking to script

At Milken conference Jordan’s Queen Rania slams Israel, minimizes Hamas’ role in conflict

Despite saying she seeks consensus, Rania squarely put the blame for Gaza war on Israel

Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

Queen Rania of Jordan poses for the photographers before a lunch at the Royal Palace.

LOS ANGELES — While Jordanian King Abdullah II met President Joe Biden for lunch at the White House on Monday, his wife, Queen Rania Al Abdullah, was thousands of miles away speaking at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills. 

Despite delivering a series of recent speeches and TV interviews slamming Israel and minimizing Hamas’ role in the current conflict, Rania, whose father was Palestinian, began her conversation with a plea for humanity and humility. 

“If there’s anything I want to achieve, it’s for people to come out of this thinking that there is more to this issue, that it is actually complex, and that it needs to be approached with a lot of nuance, and for us to try to find the third way,” she said. “You don’t have to be either pro-Israel or pro-Palestine. There needs to be a middle ground.” 

But the rest of her 30-minute conversation with MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi, which took place in front of some of the biggest names in business, blamed Israel for the war in Gaza and for prolonging the decades-old conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

“When we look at whose fault it is, and this cycle or that cycle, we can keep going back and forth,” she said. “But it all comes back down to an illegal occupation. You want safety and security? We need to end the occupation.” 

Rania didn’t mention the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks until the final part of her remarks, nor did she speak about Hamas’ role in planning and executing the attacks. She also didn’t speak about the more than 130 remaining hostages in Gaza.

“There was outrage over October 7, as there should be,” Rania said. “But why isn’t there outrage about the number of people who are being killed now? Why is it okay for some people to have human rights while others are deprived of it?”

She brought up the claims Israel and the United States have made that Hamas uses civilians in Gaza as “human shields,” but instead of criticizing the terror group, Rania argued that Israel is the one using human shields by building settlements in the West Bank.

“A lot of times, we hear that the people, the large number of civilians who are killed in Gaza, was due to Hamas’ use of human shields, which in and of itself, is not a very convincing argument, because Gaza is one of the most densely populated places in the world. So any place that Hamas is going to be in by default is going to be surrounded by civilians,” she said. “More importantly, to me, if the definition of human shields is putting civilians in harm’s way in order to protect yourself, then isn’t the government’s policy in Israel is to give grants, subsidies and tax breaks for Israelis to go and live in settlements – isn’t that the ultimate human shields?” 

Still, despite her long overtures against Israel, Rania ended her address as she started: by saying she seeks consensus.

“Obviously the population in Israel are afraid. They feel traumatized, and they’ve been taught by their leaders that Palestinians are not people, they are just a security threat who they have to defend themselves against. That is not giving them justice,” she said. “I think we all need to rally behind a third way that actually puts the people first, beyond the political agendas of leaders or zealots or extremists.” 

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