RIYADH (The Thursday Times) — THE RECENT SUMMIT BRINGING together the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation at Riyadh ended with more questions than answers with regards to Israel’s seemingly unwavering genocidal attacks on Gaza. It was a gathering that promised much but delivered little.
The summit’s agenda, heavily focused on Israel’s military operations in Gaza, led to unanimous condemnation of these actions as violations of international law. However, the final declaration lacked the teeth to translate this condemnation into tangible action. Proposals like disrupting oil supplies to Israel, put forth by countries like Algeria and Lebanon, met resistance from others such as the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, who have recently normalised relations with Israel.
Iran was bold in its move to label the Israeli army a “terrorist organisation,” mirroring Tehran’s longstanding antagonism towards Israel. However, as a joint operation, the meeting resulted in a ultimately watered-down statement which failed to address the urgency of the ongoing crisis or propose a logically-viable solution.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s attempt at a humanitarian appeal, including calling for an immediate ceasefire and the release of prisoners, did not culminate in a clear action plan.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticised Israel’s actions in Gaza, describing them as revenge against Gazan babies, children, and women. He emphasised the need for a permanent ceasefire, rather than temporary pauses, and defended Hamas resisters, stating that they should not be equated with occupiers.
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, also expressed strong views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, questioning the international community’s treatment of Israel as if it were “above” international law. He highlighted the gravity of the situation, expressing disbelief that hospitals could be shelled in the 21st century.
Pakistan’s prime minister, Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, addressed the serious developments facing Palestine and Jerusalem. He proposed that Arab and Islamic countries should consider initiating proceedings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Israel for war crimes and crimes against humanity under the Genocide Convention. The Prime Minister also suggested requesting the UN Secretary-General to establish a special commission of inquiry to investigate these crimes committed by Israel. He stressed the importance of a political solution through dialogue between Palestinians and Israel, aiming for a two-state solution based on pre-June 1967 borders with Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.
The State of Palestine’s call for concrete measures such as the expulsion of Israeli ambassadors and legal action against Israeli war crimes starkly contrasted with the summit’s diplomatic rhetoric. This has only served to amplify disconnect between members of the OIC.
The Riyadh conference’s inability to agree on significant measures like an arms embargo against Israel or the establishment of a fund for Gaza’s reconstruction summarises the summit’s overall ineffectiveness in adequately dealing with complex regional crises, which has left Palestine grasping for the prospect of even mere straws for well over fifty years.