Arab, Muslim leaders condemn Israel's war crimes but disagree on response

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman chaired the emergency meeting of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Riyadh. (Photo/AFP)

Arab and Muslim leaders have condemned Israeli forces' "barbaric" actions in Gaza but declined to approve punitive economic and political steps against the country over its war crimes.

The outcome of a joint summit in the Saudi capital of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on Saturday highlighted regional divisions over how to respond to the war even as fears mount that it could draw in other countries.

The final declaration rejected Israeli claims that it is acting in "self-defence" and demanded that the United Nations Security Council adopt "a decisive and binding resolution" to halt Israel's "aggression".

It also called for an end to weapons sales to Israel and dismissed out of hand any future political resolution to the conflict that would keep Gaza separate from the occupied West Bank.

Condemnation with few concrete step

Saudi Arabia's Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who before the war was considering establishing formal diplomatic ties with Israel, told the summit he "holds the occupation (Israeli) authorities responsible for the crimes committed against the Palestinian people."

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, on his first trip to Saudi Arabia since the two countries mended ties in March, said Islamic nations should designate the Israeli army a "terrorist organisation" for its conduct in Gaza.

Türkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said "It is a shame that Western countries, which always talk about human rights and freedoms, remain silent in the face of the ongoing massacres in Palestine".

Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Saudi foreign minister, similarly decried "double standards" in the world's response to the war, saying Israel was getting a pass on violations of international law.

In a statement issued from Gaza, Hamas called on summit participants to expel Israeli ambassadors, form a legal commission to try "Israeli war criminals" and create a reconstruction fund for the territory.

'Lack of consensus no big surprise'

Some countries, including Algeria and Lebanon, proposed responding to the devastation in Gaza by threatening to disrupt oil supplies to Israel and its allies as well as severing the economic and diplomatic ties that some Arab League nations have with Israel, the diplomats said.

However, at least three countries - including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which normalised ties with Israel in 2020 - rejected the proposal, according to the diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The lack of consensus was no big surprise, said Rabha Saif Allam, a specialist in Middle Eastern affairs at the Cairo Center for Strategic Studies.

Differences between Washington's Arab allies and countries closer to Iran "can't be erased overnight," Allam said.

Israel and its main backer the United States have so far rebuffed demands for a ceasefire, a position that drew heavy criticism on Saturday.


SourceL TRT