Arab and Muslim leaders denounced Israeli “war crimes” in Gaza at a summit in Riyadh where Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a first public meeting.
The extraordinary summit, which brought together 57 leaders, demanded that the UN Security Council take a “decisive and binding decision” to impose a cessation of aggression while fighting is ongoing deep in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.
“We condemn the Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip, the war crimes and the barbaric, brutal and inhumane massacres committed by the colonial occupation government against the Palestinian people, including in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. We demand that this cease immediately,” the final resolution states.
The summit rejected the characterization of this “war of revenge as a war of self-defense” and demanded the entry of humanitarian aid convoys.
“Protection from cycles of violence and war will not be achieved without ending the Israeli occupation…we hold Israel, the occupying power, responsible for the continuation and escalation of the conflict due to its aggression against human rights,” the resolution adds.
Israel launched its offensive after surprise cross-border attacks by Hamas that left 1,200 people dead and took hostages.
The summit marks the first trip by an Iranian leader to Saudi Arabia in 11 years after the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries in March.
Raisi shook hands with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), heir to the Saudi throne and de facto ruler of the country.
Iran is the main backer of the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, which is engaged in daily crossfire with Israeli forces on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. It also supports Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who fire missiles at Israel, and has close ties to Hamas.
Speaking at the summit, Raisi said all participants had come together in the name of the Islamic world to “save the Palestinians.”
“We are gathered here today to discuss the priority of the Islamic world, namely the Palestinian cause, where we have witnessed the worst crimes in history… Today is a historic day in defense and “heroic support of the Al-Aqsa Mosque”, he added.
In his opening speech, MBS said the Kingdom “categorically rejects” the war the Palestinians are being subjected to.
“This summit is being held in exceptional and painful circumstances,” he said.
“We categorically reject this brutal war to which our brothers and sisters are being subjected in Palestine…we renew our demand for an immediate cessation of military operations. »
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the United States “bears responsibility for the lack of a political solution” because it has the greatest influence over Israel.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad also attended the summit, a further sign of Syria’s rehabilitation among Arab states, following his participation in a regional meeting in May.
In his remarks, Assad criticized normalization agreements between Arab countries and Israel. “More helping hands from us equals more killings against us… what we need to do to help Palestine is to use real political tools, not rhetorical tools, and that, first of all, is to stop all political process with the Zionist entity,” he said.
The remarks by Assad – who is also accused of committing war crimes during his country’s civil war – may have run counter to normalization talks between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
This dialogue, brokered primarily by the United States, was at an advanced stage when it was scuttled by the outbreak of war between Hamas and Israel.
Qatar’s head of state, Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, also criticized the international community for its failure to “end war crimes and massacres” in Gaza.
“We wonder how long the international community will continue to treat Israel as if it is above international law, and how much longer will it be tolerated to flout all international laws in its brutal and endless war against the indigenous population of the country,” Al Que told me.
The gas-rich country has brokered indirect negotiations between Hamas and Israel on the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas, humanitarian aid in the besieged Gaza Strip, as well as a possible ceasefire.