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Jordan says Palestinian displacement pushes region to 'abyss' of wider conflict

Palestinians, who fled their houses amid Israeli strikes, shelter at a United Nations-run school in Khan Younis

By Suleiman Al-Khalidi

AMMAN (Reuters) -Jordan said on Saturday any move by Israel to impose a new displacement of Palestinians would push the region to the "abyss" of a wider regional conflict.

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi also said Israel's blocking of humanitarian aid to Gaza and forcing its residents to leave their homes as it escalates its military action were a "flagrant" breach of international law.

Israel had given the entire population of the north of the Gaza Strip a Saturday morning deadline to move south ahead of an expected ground offensive to root out Hamas militants. It has said it will keep two roads open until 4 p.m. to allow people to escape.

Safadi said the military campaign against Hamas was killing innocent civilians and would bring despair and destruction in its wake that would not bring security to Israel.

"The war is killing and displacing innocent Palestinians and will leave the region and the world facing the repercussion of an environment of destruction and despair that Israel will create in Gaza," Safadi said in comments after meeting his Canadian counterpart.

"It won't achieve security or lead to peace," Safadi said, in the toughest language from Jordan since the conflict that broke out after a devastating cross-border attack by Hamas a week ago.

Israel's push to move the entire population to leave their homes was a "red line" that Arabs would confront, Safadi said.

"This will bring the region into the hell of war ... we have to end this madness," he added.

The war's continuation also threatened to lead to its spread on other fronts, Safadi said, adding that "violence would breed more violence and destruction".

King Abdullah was heading on Saturday to Europe in stepped-up diplomatic efforts led by the kingdom, which Safadi said aimed to garner support for an end to the impending humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and preventing a wider conflagration.

The monarch told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Amman on Friday that the priority was protecting civilians on both sides and ensuring Israel allows urgent aid into Gaza.

Safadi said the king had also emphasised Jordan's refusal to accept the displacement of Palestinians from their land.

Amman, which lost the West Bank including East Jerusalem to Israel during the 1967 Middle East war, is worried widening violence could have repercussions with a large percentage of Jordan's population made up of Palestinians.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-KhalidiAdditional reporting by Muath Freij; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Sharon Singleton and Helen Popper)