(CTN News) – The presidents of several Arab nations and Iran met Saturday in Saudi Arabia to urge an end to Gaza fighting before other nations join the Israeli-Hamas conflict.
A meeting between the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was called following the bloody Hamas attacks on October 7, which killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took 239 hostages.
As a result of Israel’s subsequent aerial and ground offensive, more than 11,000 civilians, mostly civilians, have been killed, most of them children. Aid groups urging a ceasefire in Gaza say there is a humanitarian crisis there, citing a shortage of food, water, and medicine.
The Arab League and OIC meetings were originally scheduled separately.
Diplomats decided to merge meetings after Arab League delegations failed to agree on a final statement.
In response to the devastation in Gaza, Algeria, and Lebanon suggested cutting off oil supplies to Israel and its allies and severing ties between some Arab League nations and Israel, the diplomats said.
According to diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity, at least three countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, rejected the proposal.
Prior to the meeting, Islamic Jihad criticized Arab leaders for the delay, saying it didn’t “expect anything” to come out of the meeting.
The group’s deputy secretary-general, Mohammad al-Hindi, told a press conference in Beirut that such meetings have been ineffective for many years. As an indicator of its outcome, this conference will be held after 35 days (of war).
According to Gaza Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Gulf kingdom’s de facto ruler, Saudi Arabia “confirms that it holds the occupation (Israeli) authorities responsible for crimes committed against the Palestinian people.”
He said the only way to guarantee security, peace, and stability in the region is to end the occupation, siege, and settlements in Gaza and the occupied West Bank. It is expected that Israel and its main backer, the United States, will draw heavy criticism on Saturday for rebuffing ceasefire demands.
The issue is not just about Israel-Palestine, but about what is enabling Israel to do this, which is basically the United States and the West,” said Saudi analyst Aziz Alghashian.
The raisi in Riyadh
The guests included Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani (2ndR) and Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. On Saturday, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi arrived in Riyadh for the summit, his first trip to Saudi Arabia since the two countries reestablished ties in March.
Raisi is the first Iranian president to visit Saudi Arabia since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went to an OIC meeting in 2012. The war could escalate because Iran backs Hamas, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Houthi rebels in Yemen.
There are already cross-border exchanges between the Israeli army and Hezbollah, and the Huthis say they fire “ballistic missiles” at southern Israel.
Because Saudi Arabia has close ties to Washington and was considering normalizing ties with Israel before the war, analysts say it feels vulnerable to attacks. In his first public comments on the war, Prince Mohammed condemned the Israeli occupation forces’ “continued violations of international humanitarian law.” Riyadh has also condemned the war.
A panel hosted by the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington was led by Kim Ghattas, author of a book on the Iran-Saudi rivalry, who said, “The Saudis hope that by not normalizing yet, and having a channel to the Iranians, they’ll get some protection.” According to her, the Iranians are hoping that by keeping in touch with the Saudis, they’ll get some protection.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar goes to the summit.
Caretaker PM Anwaarul Haq Kakar arrived in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh on Friday to represent Pakistan at the OIC emergency meeting on Gaza.
Prince Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Governor of Riyadh, met the prime minister earlier today at King Khalid International Airport. Senior Saudi and Pakistani officials were also there, including Pakistan’s ambassador Ahmed Farooq. While he’s in Riyadh for his three-day visit, the prime minister’s going to attend an emergency meeting about Israeli aggression on Gaza.