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Arab-Islamic summit condemns Israeli aggression and war crimes, calls for immediate end to Gaza siege

Radiance News Service

Nov. 13, 2023
The situation continues to worsen in Gaza. UN Staff observed a minute’s silence to honour more than 100 employees killed with UN flags flying at half-mast. The WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus has warned of a “dire and perilous” situation, saying more vulnerable patients, including premature babies in Gaza, are dying as hospitals face relentless attacks, electricity and fuel shortages and with their doctors and nurses being killed or injured in service.

Ghebreyesus also called for a ceasefire to save lives and speed the delivery of much-needed aid, saying “Nowhere and no one is safe” in Gaza.

The UN health chief also said medical staff continue to grapple with trying to manage the growing needs of 2.3 million people without the lifesaving aid required to treat the ill and injured. As of 13th November, Al-Shifa and Al-Quds Hospitals in Gaza, two of the largest, have both closed.

The Gaza issue at the UN, India and the UK
Global geopolitics about the Palestine crisis is buzzing, but with no real or concrete results that could lead to a cessation of the violence in Gaza. India has supported a resolution at the UNGA condemning Israeli settlements, and UK PM Rishi Sunak has fired hardline conservative and anti-immigration Home Secretary Suella Braverman who ran into controversy with her provocative speeches against pro-Palestine marches in the UK and replaced her with old guard and former PM David Cameron.

Braverman drew anger for accusing police of being too lenient with pro-Palestinian protester. It is widely seen that her inflammatory rhetoric about migrants, protesters, the police and the homeless has spurred pro-Israel protestors and groups to attack the protestors and cause unrest, which has led Sunak to turn to Cameron, a more seasoned hand in politics.

Meanwhile, in the Middle East, the Riyadh Arab-Islamic summit has rejected a justification of the Gaza war in the name of Israeli self-defence, demanding aid be allowed to enter Gaza and calling for the cessation of arms exports to the occupying Israeli forces.

The Riyadh summit leaders demanded that the UN Security Council adopt “a decisive and binding resolution” to halt Israel’s “aggression” in Gaza. Initially, only the 22 members of the Arab League were expected to participate, but the meeting was later expanded to include the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The joint Arab League-OIC summit was called after the Arab League failed to pass a resolution concerning the Gaza war on Friday, 10 November, 2023.

The extraordinary joint Islamic-Arab summit in Riyadh urged the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes in the Palestinian territories. Major leaders included Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who was welcomed back into the Arab League this year.

Who said what
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi attended the summit, marking the first visit by an Iranian president in 11 years. Tehran and Riyadh had formally ended years of hostility under a Chinese-brokered deal in March.

“Blind bombardment against Gaza must stop,” Raisi said, adding that “Islamic governments should designate the army of the occupying and aggressor regime [Israel] as a terrorist organisation”.

He also highlighted that Washington is supporting Israel in the United Nations. He criticized the US regular vetoes against the resolutions that prevent the killing of Palestinians.

Raisi also praised Hamas for resisting against Israel and urged Islamic countries to impose an oil and goods sanctions on Israel. “There is no other way but to resist Israel. We kiss the hands of Hamas for its resistance against Israel,” Raisi said in his address.

The Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim questioned the duplicitous status of Israel in the eyes of international law and how it is allowed to get away with the most heinous of war crimes.

“The international world remains immune in front of all these scenes. Who could have imagined that hospitals could be publicly shelled in the 21st century?” he asked. He also said that Qatar was seeking to mediate the release of Israeli hostages and hoped for a humanitarian truce.

President Joko Widodo of Indonesia (the country with the world’s largest Muslim population) said the “Indonesia Hospital in North Gaza continues to be the target of Israeli attacks and has run out of fuel.”

According to Reuters journalists, “some Arab countries, led by Algeria, called for a complete cut in diplomatic ties with Israel.”

Calling for a swift end to “Israel’s aggression, the occupation, violation and desecration of our holy sites”, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas pointed out that the violence in the West Bank has also escalated steeply.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reasserted his call for an immediate ceasefire and criticized the format of the “humanitarian pause.” Importantly, he rejected the equating of Hamas fighters, who he said were “defending their homeland” to that of the occupying Israeli army.

The resolutions adopted
This comes at a time when almost all Muslim leaders, including the ones who attended the summit, have been under heavy criticism on social media and from Palestinians on the ground and in the pro-Palestine protests for what is seen as mere rhetoric and no real call to action. The full text of the resolution adopted at the Joint Arab Islamic Extraordinary Summit can be found here. Some extracts:

“We express our joint stance in condemning the brutal Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank, including Al-Quds Al-Sharif. We affirm addressing together this aggression and the humanitarian catastrophe that it causes. We seek to stop and end all Israeli illegal practices that perpetuate the occupation and deprive the Palestinian people of their rights, especially their right to freedom and to have an independent sovereign State on all their national territory…

“We hold Israel, the occupying force, responsible for the continuation and aggravation of the conflict, which is the result of its violation of the rights of the Palestinian people, and of the Islamic and Christian sanctities…

“[We decide to…] Reject describing this retaliatory war as self-defense or justifying it under any pretext.”

Deadlocks continue
The attending countries were divided over “important clauses” that could not be adopted in its joint response to Israel’s onslaught, according to a report by Al-Araby Al-Jadeed. The report added that four “influential countries” in the Arab League had prevented the adoption of proposals that carry concrete measures against Israel, such as boycotts and snapping of ties. However, these developments have not been officially released in the official communique, but only reported by Reuters and other publications through reporters present at the summit and diplomatic sources.

These disputes were primarily over five crucial clauses proposed during discussions as some Arab countries refused to vote for stringent measures against Israel. The clauses, were endorsed by 11 Arab states (Palestine, Syria, Algeria, Tunisia, Iraq, Lebanon, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Libya and Yemen). Officially, the four countries who voted against and those who abstained were not disclosed to the media in official communication, but multiple reports have cited that they were rejected by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco, Mauritania, Djibouti, Jordan and Egypt.

These resolutions included prohibiting the use of American and other military bases in Arab countries to supply Israel with weapons and ammunition, freezing Arab diplomatic, economic, security, and military relations with Israel, threatening to leverage oil and Arab economic capabilities to apply pressure and halt the ongoing aggression, preventing Israeli civil aviation from accessing Arab airspace and establishing an Arab Ministerial Committee tasked with immediate travel to New York, Washington, Brussels, Geneva, London, and Paris to convey the Arab Summit’s plea to halt Israeli aggression against Gaza.

According to a report in The Cradle, while Saudi Arabia has condemned Israel’s assault on Gaza, it has nevertheless shot down missiles fired by Yemen’s Ansarallah resistance movement targeting the southern Israeli port city of Eilat, while UAE and Egypt have continued to maintain their diplomatic relations with Israel, and Jordan allegedly allowing the US to use its territory to transport heavy military equipment for Israel.

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