the Arab League shows the secretary general of the 22-nation organisation, Ahmed Abul Gheit (L), chairing an urgent virtual foreign ministers meeting in Cairo on the situation in Jerusalem
Secretary General of the Arab league Ahmed Abul Gheit 9L) during an urgent virtual foreign ministers meeting in Cairo to discuss the conflict across the Gaza border
Photo: AFP
Secretary General of the Arab league Ahmed Abul Gheit 9L) during an urgent virtual foreign ministers meeting in Cairo to discuss the conflict across the Gaza border

Islamic nations hold emergency summit on Israel-Gaza fighting

While Arab League members maintain Palestinians should have their own state, recent relations forged between Gulf states and Jerusalem, as well as concerns over the Islamist Hamas has lead to a somewhat-muted response to Israel's attacks compared to past conflicts

Associated Press |
Published: 05.16.21 , 15:21
The 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation opened an emergency meeting Sunday over the heavy fighting between Israel and the Gaza Strip's militant Hamas rulers, the first major move among Mideast nations still grappling with how to address the conflict.
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  • While the Arab League and organizations like the Saudi-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have maintained their view that the Palestinians should have their own independent state, some member states have recently established relations with Israel.
    5 צפייה בגלריה
    the Arab League shows the secretary general of the 22-nation organisation, Ahmed Abul Gheit (L), chairing an urgent virtual foreign ministers meeting in Cairo on the situation in Jerusalem
    the Arab League shows the secretary general of the 22-nation organisation, Ahmed Abul Gheit (L), chairing an urgent virtual foreign ministers meeting in Cairo on the situation in Jerusalem
    Secretary General of the Arab league Ahmed Abul Gheit 9L) during an urgent virtual foreign ministers meeting in Cairo to discuss the conflict across the Gaza border
    (Photo: AFP)
    That, as well as the concerns of some nations over the Islamist Hamas, has seen a somewhat-muted response to the attacks as opposed to the full-throated response of decades past.
    Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki decried what he called Israel's "cowardly attacks" at the start of the meeting.
    "We need to tell Allah that we will resist to the last day," he said. "We are facing a long-term occupation. that's the base of the problem. Crimes are committed against the Palestinians without consequences."
    However, Malki's Palestinian Authority has no control over Hamas and the Gaza Strip, where the militants seized power in 2007.
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    Riad Malki
    Riad Malki
    Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki
    (Photo: EPA)
    Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu took a similarly hard line.
    "Israel alone is responsible for the recent escalation in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza," Cavusoglu said. "Our warnings to Israel last week went unheeded."
    Across the Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf states' reactions to the fighting has been mixed. In Qatar, home to the Al-Jazeera satellite network, hundreds turned out late Saturday night to listen to a speech by Hamas' top leader Ismail Haniyeh. He now splits his time between Turkey and Qatar, both of which back Hamas, as does Iran.
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    עזה לאחר תקיפות צה"ל
    עזה לאחר תקיפות צה"ל
    A resident of Gaza walks by a building demolished in an Israeli strike over the weekend
    (Photo: EPA)
    "The resistance will not give in," Haniyeh vowed as bodyguards stood behind him. He added that "resistance is the shortest road to Jerusalem" and that Palestinians will not accept anything less than a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
    Kuwait's parliament speaker reportedly spoke with Haniyeh on Saturday, as did Qatar's foreign minister. So too did Gen. Esmail Ghaani, the head of the expeditionary Quds Forces of Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.
    Then there are Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, two Gulf Arab states that established relations with Israel last year in the waning months of the Trump administration.
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       An Israeli strike on Gaza early on Sunday
       An Israeli strike on Gaza early on Sunday
    An Israeli strike on Gaza early on Sunday
    (Photo: AP)
    Those nations, as well as Saudi Arabia, have reiterated their support of Palestinians obtaining their own independent state. However, government-linked media in those nations haven't been covering the current flare-up of violence nonstop like other networks in the region.
    There are murmurs of dissent though. In the island nation of Bahrain, civil society groups signed a letter urging the kingdom to expel the Israeli ambassador over the violence.
    In the UAE, where political parties and protests are illegal, Palestinians in the workforces of Abu Dhabi and Dubai have expressed their anger quietly, worried about losing their residency permit. Some Emiratis also have expressed concerns.
    "The region's only democracy," tweeted the Emirati writer and political analyst Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi as he commented about Israel's strike on a Gaza building that housed the offices of The Associated Press and Al-Jazeera.
    Cavusoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, criticized OIC members who forged relations with Israel.
    "There are a few who have lost their moral compass and voiced support for Israel," he said. "If there are half-hearted statements within our own family, how could we criticize others who (don't) take our words seriously?"
    Hussein Ibish, a senior scholar at the Washington-based Arab Gulf States Institute, said most Gulf Arab leaders view Hamas' rocket fire as "cynical, dangerous, unnecessarily provocative and endangering Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza alike."
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    Smoke bellows in Gaza after an IAF strike on Saturday
    Smoke bellows in Gaza after an IAF strike on Saturday
    Smoke bellows in Gaza after an IAF strike on Saturday
    (Photo: AFP)
    "There won't be much sympathy for what is widely viewed in the Gulf as Israel's heavy-handed and disproportionate retaliation," Ibish wrote, "but it will be much easier for Gulf leaders and many citizens to regard the exchange as a tragic conflagration at the expense of ordinary people brought about by two leaderships over which they have neither control nor responsibility."


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