World should make immediate Gaza ceasefire a priority, say regional ministers - GulfToday

World should make immediate Gaza ceasefire a priority, say regional ministers


Foregin ministers participate in an Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee briefing session on the current situation in Gaza, in Washington, DC, on Friday. AFP

There must be an immediate end to the fighting in Gaza but governments worldwide do not seem to see it as a priority, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said on Friday in Washington, adding that there must also be a credible roadmap to establish a Palestinian state.

At a joint press conference before meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, a group of foreign ministers refused to discuss in detail the future of Gaza, saying the focus should remain on stopping the fighting immediately in the Palestinian enclave between Hamas militants and the Israeli military.

"Our message is consistent and clear that we believe that it is absolutely necessary to end the fighting immediately," Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said.

"One of the disturbing facts of this conflict is that ending the conflict and the fighting doesn't seem to be the main priority," for the world, he said.

Humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza needed to be significantly increased, he said, adding that it is "unacceptable" that aid "is being restricted and has been restricted" because of "bureaucratic obstacles."

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the Security Council that the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip "may aggravate existing threats to international peace and security."

Guterres invoked the rarely used Article 99 of the founding UN Charter that allows him to "bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security."

"We are facing a severe risk of collapse of the humanitarian system. The situation is fast deteriorating into a catastrophe with potentially irreversible implications for Palestinians as a whole and for peace and security in the region," Guterres wrote in a letter to the 15-member council.

"Such an outcome must be avoided at all cost," he said.

A UN Security Council vote on a demand for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war was delayed by several hours on Friday until after Blinken's planned meeting with Arab ministers and the foreign minister of Turkey. The Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee comprises ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, Palestinian Authority and Turkey.

The United States — a veto-wielding power on the council — has said it does not currently support further action by the 15-member body on the conflict. The council last month called for pauses in fighting to allow aid access.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told the press conference that if the resolution fails on Friday, it would be giving a licence to Israel "to continue with its massacre." "Our priority for now is to stop the war, stop the killing, stop the destruction of Gaza's infrastructure," he said.

"The message that's being sent is that Israel is acting above international law ... and the world is simply not doing much. We disagree with the United States on its position vis-à-vis on the ceasefire," he said.

In an interview with Reuters on Friday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for an immediate end to the war in Gaza and said an international peace conference should be called to work out a lasting political solution leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state.



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