Arab League summit to ‘focus on Gaza ceasefire’

Israel’s war in Gaza is expected to be at the top of the Arab League Summit agenda [Getty/file photo]

Arab leaders will convene on Thursday for the 2024 Arab League Summit, which is expected to be dominated by Israel’s war in Gaza.

The summit, which is held annually, is set to take place in Bahraini capital Manama.

In the lead up to the summit, Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit urged the conference to be used as a means to pave way for a Palestinian state based on the two-state solution, as Israel continues to ferociously attack the Gaza Strip.

At the Arab Foreign Ministers’ preparatory meeting on Tuesday, Aboul Gheit told ministers that “words failed to explain the anger and sadness” felt because of Palestinian suffering in Gaza, the pan-Arab Asharq Al-Awsat paper reported.

Hossam Zaki, the Assistant Secretary-General of the Arab League, said that the Palestinian issue will be at the forefront of the discussions, as the regional organisation “has been closely monitoring developments in Gaza and political moves related to the conflict”.

The League said it has been also monitoring Israel’s actions in the occupied West Bank, where violence against Palestinians in the territory has intensified in the backdrop of the war in Gaza.

At least 35,233 Palestinians have been killed since October 7, mostly women and children, with thousands more feared buried under rubble. Nearly 500 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since the start of Israel’s Gaza onslaught.

Ambassador Zaki said that Arab leaders will “prioritise” working on a ceasefire in the hopes of ending Israel’s deadly military operation, rather than “any post-war plans for Gaza”, Asharq Al-Awsat said.

The ambassador also stressed the need for international intervention for a solution to the ongoing war, as well as the protection of Palestinians from Israel’s deadly assault, which has been called a genocide by rights groups, NGOs, and several governments.

Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that foreign ministers discussed aligning positions on Israel’s war in Gaza in order to present a unified Arab stance on the matter.

Zaki told the London-based paper that he is confident that “strong decisions on Palestine” will be made.

The conference will also work to “gain more recognition for Palestine internationally and prepare for a peace conference”, that was previously discussed by Aboul Gheit and Spanish FM Jose Manuel Albares in a meeting in Cairo in March.

“The Summit will express strong Arab support for Palestinian rights and call on the international community to fulfill its responsibilities toward them, which are crucial for all Palestinians,” Zaki said.

Preparatory meetings for Thursday’s summit have been ongoing since Saturday.

The war in Sudan is also expected to be discussed, as Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal Bin Farhan met with his Sudanese counterpart Hussein Awad Ali during the summit’s preparatory meeting, where they discussed “the situation in Sudan and its repercussions, and the efforts made to address them,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said.

The situations in Libya, Syria and Yemen are also expected to be addressed.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Syrian FM regime Faisal Mekdad and his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi met to discuss border security issues prompted by the captagon smuggling crisis that has plagued the region in recent years.

The amphetamine-type stimulant is trafficked from Syria to Jordan and several Gulf countries, triggering a drug smuggling crisis. The regime of President Bashar al-Assad is thought to have a leading role in the illicit trade.

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