International Collaboration For An End To The War on Gaza

This article provides an in-depth overview of two significant summits – the 'Gaza Aid Conference' in Paris and the emergency joint summit of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Riyadh. It discusses the key discussions, participants, and outcomes of these meetings, held this week in response to the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The article delves into the stances of various global leaders, the proposed solutions, and the international community's growing urgency to address the complex geopolitical dynamics and pursue a path towards peace and stability in the Middle East.

France’s Gaza Aid Conference

On Thursday, 9th November, Paris hosted the ‘Gaza Aid Conference’ attended by over 50 nations, including representatives from Western and Arab countries and various non-governmental organisations such as the United Nations (1). The French President’s office noted that Israeli officials were not invited but were informed in advance, raising questions about the Conference’s effectiveness due to the need for Israeli approval in implementing any practical decisions.

French President Emmanuel Macron

In a BBC interview at the Élysée Palace, French President Emmanuel Macron stated that there is ‘no justification’ for the Israeli bombing, calling on Israel to “stop killing women and children in Gaza” and for progress towards a ceasefire (2). In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that ‘The leaders of the world should be condemning Hamas – ISIS, not Israel’, and that “the crimes that Hamas [is] committing today in Gaza will be committed tomorrow in Paris, New York and anywhere in the world” (3).

Despite these tensions, President Macron expressed hope for international support, especially from the UK and the US, in his call for a ceasefire (4). This follows the French Foreign Ministry’s request to Israel to provide an explanation for the reason behind an Israeli strike that hit the French Institute in Gaza on November 3rd (5).

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh

At the Conference, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh gave remarks demanding an end to the war, which he characterised as a war not against Hamas but “a war against the whole Palestinian people” (6).

One of the policies discussed at the Conference focuses on the proposal to establish a ‘sea aid corridor’ as a solution to the logistical delays at the Rafah border. This corridor aims to facilitate the delivery of vital supplies such as water, food, and medicine to the people of Gaza. Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides presented a plan to create a sea route that would ensure the continuous, swift, and unimpeded flow of humanitarian aid practically and efficiently (7).

Concluding the conference, President Macron announced France’s commitment to an additional €80 million (£70 million) in humanitarian aid, adding to the previously pledged €20 million (£17.5 million – 8).

Joint emergency summit of the League of the Arab States and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)

On 11th November, an emergency joint summit of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was convened in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, drawing participation from over 57 nations (9). The summit took place shortly after the US announced on Thursday that Israel had agreed to implement daily humanitarian pauses lasting 4 hours, with the intention of enabling civilians to evacuate and allow foreign aid to reach those in need (10).

The situation in Gaza remains dire. The US has voiced serious concerns about the rising death toll in Gaza, reported to exceed 11,078 as of 10th November. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have also been conducting operations near Gaza’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa, raising additional concerns about the safety of civilians and humanitarian workers in the area (11).

Several non-Arab League nations were in attendance, including Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. President Raisi’s attendance marked a significant diplomatic milestone, being the first visit by an Iranian head of state to Saudi Arabia since the Chinese-brokered agreement in March that re-established diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia (12).

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman inaugurated the summit, emphasising the grave circumstances that prompted this extraordinary gathering. In his opening remarks, he underscored the shared responsibility to cease military operations and establish humanitarian corridors in Gaza. The Crown Prince stated that “we renew our demands for an immediate cessation of military operations and the provision of humanitarian corridors for the relief of civilians”, as well as affirming the call for “the release of hostages and detainees and the preservation of innocent lives” (13).

Secretary-General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit

His Excellency Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, affirmed that Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip is not the first, and he hopes that it will be the last (14). Making a reference to a statement made by a far-right Israeli minister who said that ‘nuking Gaza is an option’, and that the population should ‘go to Ireland or deserts’ (15), he said that such a statement represents the ‘Israeli hatred towards the resilient inhabitants of Gaza’ (16).

He called for an end and rejection of the forced displacement of the inhabitants of Gaza, the West Bank, or East Jerusalem, and the need for the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the borders of 1967 (17).

King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan stated that the summit was “convened for Gaza and its people, who are subjected to killing, destruction, and a brutal war that must stop immediately”. He also stated that ‘the region might face a significant clash, the consequences of which would affect innocents on both sides and have global repercussions’ (18).

His Majesty referenced that the United Nations General Assembly’s resolution on Gaza (see OX1 column) was a victory for humanitarian values and a bias towards the right to life and peace, representing a global consensus in rejecting the war. He affirmed that common humanitarian values do not accept the killing of civilians or the brutality that the world has witnessed in recent weeks of killing and destruction, nor should the legitimate and just cause be turned into a flashpoint igniting religious conflict (19).

President Mahmoud Abbas of the State of Palestine

President Mahmoud Abbas of the State of Palestine described the current situation in the Gaza Strip as a ‘brutal aggression by the cowardly Israeli war machine, amidst violations of sanctities and international humanitarian law, resulting in the death and injury of over 40,000 civilians, mostly children, women, and the elderly’ (20).

President Abbas emphasised the significant political role of the United States, demanding an end to the Israeli aggression and working towards ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and sanctities. To avoid a recurrence of the cycle of violence, he articulated three critical points:

  1. Immediate Action by the Security Council:
    1. President Abbas calls for the Security Council’s immediate intervention to halt aggression against Palestinians, ensuring access to essential services like medical aid, food, water, electricity, and fuel in Gaza.
    2. Emphasised preventing the displacement of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
  2. Rejection of Military and Security Solutions:
    1. Abbas firmly rejected any military or security-based approaches to the conflict, citing their consistent failure.
    2. He criticises the occupation for undermining the two-state solution through settlement expansion, annexation, ethnic cleansing, racial discrimination, and the siege of Gaza. He highlights violations against Islamic and Christian sites.
    3. He emphasised that there would be no compromise on the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.
  3. Integral Status of Gaza and Comprehensive Political Solution:
    1. He emphasised that the Gaza Strip is an inseparable part of the State of Palestine and insisted that any political solution must encompass all Palestinian territories, including the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza.
    2. Abbas condemned what he described as Israeli piracy of Palestinian funds sent to Gaza and reiterated that Gaza has not been abandoned, underscoring the continuous support and commitment of the Palestinian leadership to the region.

As the extraordinary joint Arab-Islamic Summit concluded its proceedings with the issuance and unanimous endorsement of a resolution by all participating states

Disclaimer: This is a translation of the original statement in Arabic – While efforts have been made to ensure accuracy, minor discrepancies in translation may exist.
2023 Arab-Islamic Summit Full Resolution Text (Translated)

Leaders and governments of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League decided to merge the summits planned by both organisations, responding to invitations from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (current presidency of the summits) and the State of Palestine. This action reflects our unified stance in condemning the brutal Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank including Jerusalem, and our joint efforts to halt this aggression and the humanitarian disaster it causes. We work together to end all illegitimate Israeli practices that entrench occupation, and deprive the Palestinian people of their rights, especially their right to freedom and an independent, sovereign state on their entire national territory.

Expressing our gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for their generous hosting, we reaffirm all decisions of both organisations concerning the Palestinian issue and all occupied Arab lands. We recall all United Nations and other international organisations’ resolutions regarding the Palestinian issue, the crimes of the Israeli occupation, and the Palestinian people’s right to freedom and independence in all their occupied territories since 1967, forming one geographical unit.

We welcome United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/ES-10/L.25 adopted on 26 October 2023, affirming the centrality of the Palestinian cause. We stand with all our resources and capabilities alongside the Palestinian people in their legitimate struggle to liberate their occupied lands, fulfil all their inalienable rights, especially their right to self-determination, and live in their independent, sovereign state within the June 4, 1967, borders with Jerusalem as its capital.

We affirm that a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace, our strategic choice, is the only way to ensure security and stability for all peoples of the region. This peace is impossible without ending the Israeli occupation and resolving the Palestinian issue based on the two-state solution. We affirm the impossibility of achieving regional peace by bypassing the Palestinian issue or ignoring the Palestinian people’s rights. The Arab Peace Initiative, endorsed by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, remains a fundamental reference.

We hold Israel, the occupying power, responsible for the ongoing and escalating conflict due to its aggression against Palestinian rights, Islamic and Christian holy sites, and its systematic policies and unilateral actions that entrench occupation, violate international law, and hinder just and comprehensive peace. We affirm that Israel and all countries in the region will not enjoy security and peace unless the Palestinians do so and regain all their usurped rights. The ongoing Israeli occupation is a threat to regional security, stability, and international peace.

We condemn all forms of hatred and discrimination and any narratives that foster a culture of hatred and extremism. We warn of the catastrophic consequences of Israel’s retaliatory aggression on the Gaza Strip, constituting a war crime, including its barbaric crimes in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and the real danger of war expansion due to Israel’s refusal to stop its aggression and the Security Council’s failure to enforce international law to end it.

“Our decisions include:” 31 Resolution Action Points

  1. Condemning Israeli Aggression in Gaza:
    Condemning the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, the war crimes, and brutal, inhumane massacres committed by the colonial occupation government, demanding an immediate halt to these actions.
  2. Rejecting ‘Self-Defense’ Narrative:
    Rejecting the characterization of this retaliatory war as self-defence under any pretext.
  3. Breaking Gaza Siege for Humanitarian Aid:
    Breaking the siege on Gaza and enforcing the entry of Arab, Islamic, and international humanitarian aid convoys, including food, medicine, and fuel, immediately. Calling for international organizations to participate in this process, ensuring their entry into the Strip, protecting their teams, enabling them to fully perform their roles, and supporting the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
  4. Supporting Egypt’s Gaza Aid Efforts:
    Supporting Egypt’s steps to address the consequences of the Israeli aggression on Gaza, endorsing its efforts to introduce aid into the Strip immediately and sustainably.
  5. Demanding Security Council Action Against Israeli Aggression:
    Demanding the Security Council take decisive action to stop the aggression and curb the colonial occupation authority violating international and humanitarian law and the latest United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/ES-10/L.25 dated 26/10/2023. Failing to do so is considered complicity, allowing Israel to continue its brutal aggression killing innocents.
  6. Halting Arms Exports to Israel:
    Urging all countries to halt arms and ammunition exports to the occupation authorities, used by their army and terrorist settlers to kill Palestinians and destroy their homes, hospitals, schools, mosques, churches, and resources.
  7. Condemning Israeli Attacks on Gaza Hospitals:
    Demanding the Security Council immediately condemn Israel’s barbaric destruction of hospitals in the Gaza Strip, preventing medicine, food, and fuel entry, cutting off electricity, water, and basic services, including communication and internet services, considering it collective punishment constituting a war crime. Israel, as the occupying power, must immediately comply with international laws, cancel these inhumane actions, and lift the years-long siege on the Strip.
  8. ICC Investigation into Israeli War Crimes:
    Requesting the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor to complete the investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel against the Palestinian people in all occupied territories, including East Jerusalem. Instructing the general secretariats of both organizations to follow up on this, establishing specialized legal monitoring units to document Israeli crimes in the Gaza Strip since 7 October 2023, preparing legal pleadings on all violations of international and humanitarian law committed by Israel, the occupying power, against the Palestinian people in Gaza and the rest of the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem. The unit should present its report 15 days after its establishment for consideration by the Council of the Arab League at the foreign ministers’ level and the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Organization, and then monthly.
  9. Supporting Palestine’s Legal Initiatives Against Israel:
    Supporting Palestine’s legal and political initiatives to hold Israeli occupation authorities responsible for their crimes against the Palestinian people, including the advisory opinion path of the International Court of Justice and allowing the Human Rights Council’s investigative committee to investigate these crimes without obstruction.
  10. Establishing Media Monitoring Units for Israeli Crimes:
    Instructing the secretariats to establish media monitoring units to document all crimes of the occupation authorities against the Palestinian people and digital media platforms to publish and expose their illegitimate and inhumane practices.
  11. International Initiative to Stop Gaza War:
    Instructing the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, as the presidency of the 32nd Arab and Islamic Summit, and Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Turkey, Indonesia, Nigeria, Palestine, and other interested countries, along with the general secretaries of both organizations, to start an immediate international initiative on behalf of all member states of the organization and the league to formulate an international movement to stop the war on Gaza. This initiative should pressure for a serious and genuine political process to achieve lasting and comprehensive peace based on internationally recognized references.
  12. Exerting Pressures to Stop Israeli Atrocities:
    Urging member states of the organization and the league to exert diplomatic, political, and legal pressures and take any deterrent actions to stop the colonial occupation authority’s crimes against humanity.
  13. Denouncing Double Standards in International Law:
    Denouncing the double standards in applying international law, warning that such duplicity seriously undermines the credibility of states shielding Israel from international law, putting it above it, and the credibility of multilateral action, exposing the selectivity in applying the humanitarian values system. The Arab and Islamic countries’ positions will be affected by these double standards, leading to a rift between civilizations and cultures.
  14. Condemning Displacement in Gaza:
    Condemning the displacement of about 1.5 million Palestinians from northern to southern Gaza, considering it a war crime according to the 1949 Geneva Convention and its 1977 annex, calling on parties to the convention to collectively condemn and reject it, urging all United Nations organizations to counter the colonial occupation authorities’ attempts to entrench this miserable, inhumane reality, and emphasizing the immediate return of these displaced people to their homes and areas.
  15. Rejecting Forced Palestinian Transfer: Fully and categorically rejecting and collectively countering any attempts at individual or collective forced transfer, displacement, exile, or deportation of the Palestinian people, whether within Gaza, the West Bank including Jerusalem, or outside their territories to any destination, considering it a red line and a war crime.
  16. Condemning Civilian Casualties:
    Condemning the killing of civilians and targeting them, a principled stance derived from our humanitarian values, consistent with international and humanitarian law, emphasizing the international community’s immediate and urgent steps to stop the killing and targeting of Palestinian civilians, affirming that there is no difference between one life and another, or discrimination based on nationality, race, or religion.
  17. Demanding Release of Palestinian Prisoners:
    Affirming the necessity to release all prisoners, detainees, and civilians, condemning the colonial occupation authorities’ heinous crimes against thousands of Palestinian prisoners, urging all concerned states and international organizations to pressure for an end to these crimes and prosecute their perpetrators.
  18. Stopping Occupation Forces’ Killings:
    Halting the killing crimes committed by occupation forces and settler terrorism in Palestinian villages, towns, and camps in the occupied West Bank, and all assaults on Al-Aqsa Mosque and all Islamic and Christian holy sites.
  19. Obliging Israel to Cease Illegitimate Actions:
    Affirming Israel’s obligation as the occupying power to stop all its illegitimate actions that entrench occupation, especially building and expanding settlements, land confiscation, and displacing Palestinians from their homes.
  20. Condemning Military Operations Against Palestinians:
    Condemning military operations against Palestinian towns and camps, condemning settler terrorism, urging the international community to place their associations and organizations on international terrorism lists, enabling the Palestinian people to enjoy all rights like other world peoples, including human rights, security, self-determination, and embodying their state’s independence on their land, and providing an international protection mechanism.
  21. Condemnation of Israeli Assaults:
    The attacks on Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem are condemned, along with Israel’s illegitimate actions violating the freedom of worship. It’s emphasized that the Al-Aqsa Mosque/Haram al-Sharif, encompassing 144,000 square meters, is for Muslim worship solely, with the Jordanian Waqf Administration being the sole legitimate authority for its management under the Hashemite custodianship of holy sites in Jerusalem. The role of the Presidency of the Jerusalem Committee is supported in countering the occupation authorities’ practices in the holy city.
  22. Denouncing Extremist Hate Speech:
    The extreme and racist hate speech by Israeli government ministers, including threats of nuclear weapons use against Palestinians in Gaza, is condemned as a serious threat to international security and peace. Support for the UN-convened Middle East conference to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone and address all weapons of mass destruction is emphasized.
  23. Rejecting Attacks on Civilians and Media:
    The killing of journalists, children, women, and targeting of medical personnel, as well as the use of internationally banned white phosphorus in Israeli attacks on Gaza and Lebanon, is condemned. Israeli threats to return Lebanon to the “Stone Age” and the necessity to prevent conflict escalation are highlighted. The call for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to investigate Israel’s use of chemical weapons is reiterated.
  24. Affirming PLO’s Representation:
    The Palestinian Liberation Organization is reaffirmed as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Palestinian factions and forces are urged to unite under the PLO’s leadership, taking shared responsibility in national partnership.
  25. Reaffirming Peace Commitment:
    Commitment to peace as a strategic choice to end Israeli occupation and resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict in accordance with international law and relevant international legitimacy resolutions, including UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338, 497, 1515, and 2334, is restated. Adherence to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative is emphasized, setting it as the foundation for Middle East peace efforts. Preconditions for peace with Israel and normalizing relations include ending Israeli occupation of all Palestinian and Arab territories and establishing an independent, sovereign State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital on the June 4, 1967, lines, along with addressing Palestinian refugees’ rights to return and compensation per UN General Assembly Resolution 194.
  26. Advocating for Immediate Peace Process:
    The international community is urged to promptly initiate a serious and credible peace process based on the two-state solution, fulfilling all legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, especially their right to establish an independent, sovereign state on the June 4, 1967, lines with East Jerusalem as its capital, living in peace and security alongside Israel, as per international legitimacy resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.
  27. Addressing Ongoing Palestinian Issue:
    The failure to resolve the Palestinian issue over more than 75 years, along with unchecked Israeli colonial occupation crimes and systematic undermining of the two-state solution through settlement expansion, along with unconditional support and protection of Israel from accountability by certain parties, is identified as exacerbating the situation. The refusal to heed warnings about the dangers of these crimes to future international peace and security is criticised.
  28. Rejecting Separation of Gaza and West Bank:
    Any proposals entrenching Gaza’s separation from the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are rejected. Future approaches to Gaza must be part of a comprehensive solution ensuring Gaza and the West Bank’s unity as part of a free, independent, and sovereign Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital on the June 4, 1967, lines.
  29. Calling for International Peace Conference:
    An international peace conference is proposed to be convened as soon as possible, launching a credible peace process based on international law, international legitimacy resolutions, and the land-for-peace principle, within a defined time frame and with international guarantees, aimed at ending Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem, the Syrian Golan Heights, and Lebanese territories, and implementing a two-state solution.
  30. Activating Financial Safety Nets:
    The Arab and Islamic financial safety net, as per the decisions of the 14th Islamic Summit and Arab Summit resolutions, is to be activated to provide financial contributions and support for the State of Palestine’s government and UNRWA, emphasising the need to rally international partners for Gaza’s reconstruction and alleviate the comprehensive destruction caused by Israeli aggression as soon as it ceases.
  31. Mandating Follow-up and Reporting:
    The Secretary-General of the Arab League and the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation are tasked with monitoring the implementation of the resolution and reporting on it at the next session of their respective councils.

So, what’s next?

The Arab League Secretary-General, in his concluding remarks, expressed optimism about garnering support from European countries for an international peace conference. Such a conference would aim to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and implement a two-state solution. He emphasised the member states’ commitment to providing support and assistance to the people of Gaza (21).

While pleased with the agreement on humanitarian pauses, French President Emmanuel Macron stressed the urgent need for a broader ceasefire to end the conflict. He highlighted the importance of protecting civilians and advancing towards a resolution that would not only end the current war but also address the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Macron’s statement reflected a call for the international community to work together to plan and negotiate a sustainable peace agreement (22).

“There is no other solution than first a humanitarian pause, going to a ceasefire, which will allow [us] to protect… all civilians having nothing to do with terrorists”.

These summits in Paris and Riyadh, while differing in their participants and immediate objectives, collectively underscore a growing international urgency to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The discussions highlighted the complexities of geopolitical dynamics and the diverse range of perspectives on achieving peace in the region.

The outcomes of these summits, especially the commitments to humanitarian aid and calls for a ceasefire, present a cautious yet hopeful step towards addressing the long-standing issues in the Middle East. As the international community watches and waits, the effectiveness of these diplomatic efforts in bringing about lasting peace remains to be seen.