Sunday, May 19, 2024

Arab League calls for UN peacekeepers in occupied Palestinian territory

The Arab League has called for the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping force in the occupied Palestinian territory at a summit dominated by the war on the Gaza Strip.

The “Manama Declaration” issued by the 22-member bloc called for “international protection and peacekeeping forces of the United Nations in the occupied Palestinian territories” until a two-state solution is implemented.

The meeting is the first time the bloc has come together since an extraordinary summit in Riyadh, capital of neighbouring Saudi Arabia, in November that also involved leaders from the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

At that meeting, leaders condemned Israeli forces for their “barbaric” actions in the besieged enclave.

Arab leaders and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres have attended the 33rd Arab League summit in Manama on Thursday, with the talks to include a call for an international peace conference to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli crisis.

The leaders specifically condemned the Israeli takeover of the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing, aimed at tightening the blockade on civilians, which has halted the operation of the crossing and the flow of humanitarian aid.

They demanded an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, an end to all pushes at forced displacement, the lifting of all forms of the Israeli siege, and the unimpeded and sustained access to humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip. The leaders also called for the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops from Rafah.

Additionally, the leaders denounced the targeting of humanitarian and UN organizations in Gaza by Israeli soldiers, the obstruction of their operations and the attacks on aid convoys.

The Arab leaders urged the international community and influential global powers to move beyond political calculations and double standards in addressing international crises.

They called on these entities to uphold their ethical and legal responsibilities in confronting Israeli aggressive practices and to clearly characterize them as flagrant violations of international and humanitarian law.

Israeli forces have killed more than 35,000 Palestinians and wounded nearly 80,000 in Gaza since the war started on 7 October, following the Hamas-led attack on Israel that left nearly 1,200 Israelis killed and 250 taken captive.

But more than seven months later, Israel has failed to achieve its declared goals of dismantling Hamas’ military and governance capabilities, or returning the captives.

Hamas and other Palestinian factions previously rejected the presence of any foreign forces in Gaza after the war, stressing that governance of the strip was an internal Palestinian matter.

On Wednesday, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh downplayed any post-war plans that exclude the Palestinian movement, saying “Hamas was here to stay”.

He added that the post-war administration of the Gaza Strip will be decided by Hamas in consultation with other Palestinian parties.

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