Top Arab diplomats call for ‘irreversible’ steps to Palestinian statehood, Gaza ceasefire

Amr Kandil , Friday 9 Feb 2024

During a meeting in Riyadh on Thursday, top Arab diplomats reiterated their call for "irreversible" steps toward the creation and recognition of a Palestinian state, reported the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Sameh Shoukry Arrives in Saudi Arabia
In this picture provided by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt, Sameh Shoukry, arrives in Riyadh for Gaza Consultative Ministerial Meeting and is greeted by Saudi Arabia s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Riyadh, Feb 2024.


The meeting was called for by Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud to discuss the ongoing Israeli war in Gaza—now on its 126th day.

The meeting gathered foreign ministers of Egypt, the UAE, Qatar, and Jordan. Also, in attendance was the Secretary General of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Hussein Al-Sheikh.

The top Arab diplomats underscored the urgency of ending the war in Gaza and reaching an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire.

They also highlighted the necessity of protecting civilians per international humanitarian law and removing all restrictions hindering the entry of humanitarian aid into the strip.

Furthermore, the ministers expressed their support for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine Refugees, urging all donors to continue supporting the humanitarian efforts serving Palestinian refugees.

They underlined that the Gaza Strip is an “integral part” of the occupied Palestinian territories, voicing unequivocal rejection of any forced displacement of its population.

The diplomats further underlined the significance of taking "irreversible steps" to implement the two-state solution, recognizing the state of Palestine on the borders of 4 June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital, as stated by SPA.

Saudi Arabia has consistently affirmed its stance on the necessity of establishing a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital as a resolution to the long-standing Arab-Israeli conflict, before any normalisation of ties with Israel, a step the US are pushing to.

Strenuous Efforts

The meeting comes amid intensified efforts by Egypt and Qatar to broker a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas.

As part of these efforts, Cairo hosted Thursday a new round of Egyptian and Qatari-mediated negotiations in the presence of a Hamas delegation.

Hamas has proposed a three-phase agreement for a ceasefire, each lasting 45 days, leading to an end to the war.

The proposal includes the reconstruction of Gaza hospitals and refugee camps and the exchange of detainees. 

Hamas’s proposal is in response to a framework issued during a meeting held in Paris in late January involving intelligence chiefs from Egypt, the UAE, Israel, and the Qatari prime minister.

Worsening humanitarian conditions

Egypt has been leading efforts to deliver tens of thousands of humanitarian aid to Gaza, including contributions from the country’s NGOs, national institutions, international relief agencies, and world countries, in coordination with UNRWA.

Currently, the UNRWA’s mission in assisting 5.9 million Palestinian refugees in Gaza and other areas is facing mounting challenges due to the suspension of funding by major donors after Israel alleged that 12 of the agency’s 1,300 staff were involved in Hamas's attack on 7 October.

UNRWA welcomed an independent investigation into the claims, pre-emptively dismissing “several” employees against the backdrop of the accusations.

However, major donors, including the US, have suspended their funding to the UN agency.

Israel is facing growing pressures from the international community to end its attacks in Gaza as the death toll in the strip climbed to 27,947, the majority of which are women and children, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

The Israeli aggression also displaced around 1.9 million people in Gaza, representing more than 85 percent of the population, damaging vital infrastructure across the strip and putting the majority of health facilities out of service.

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