Saudi Arabia and Muslim countries called on Saturday for an immediate end to Israel’s ground invasion and aerial campaign in Gaza, declaring in a joint Islamic-Arab summit in Riyadh that Israel bears responsibility for "crimes" against Palestinians.
The Israel-Hamas war has upended Arab and Muslim leaders across the Middle East, and led to the unprecedented joint meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (IOC) and The Arab League in Riyadh, where everyone had an opinion.
Dozens of leaders including Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attended the meeting.
Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the Kingdom affirms its "condemnation and categorical rejection of this barbaric war against our brothers in Palestine".
"We are facing a humanitarian catastrophe that proves the failure of the [UN] Security Council and the international community to put an end to the flagrant Israeli violations of international laws," he said in an address to the summit.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Palestinians are facing a "genocidal war" and called on the United States to end Israeli "aggression.”
Iranian President Raisi hailed the Palestinian group Hamas for its war against Israel and urged Islamic countries to impose oil and goods sanctions on Israel, and called upon Islamic countries to designate the Israeli army a “terrorist organization.”
Saudi Prince Mohammed confirmed that his country “holds the occupation (Israeli) authorities responsible for the crimes committed against the Palestinian people.”
"We are certain that the only way to guarantee security, peace and stability in the region is to end the occupation, siege and the settlements," he added.
To date, Israel's aerial and ground invasion in Gaza has killed more than 11,000 people, many of them civilians and children, according to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health.
Israel has not minced word since the Oct. 7. Their coalition government stands firm to “destroy Hamas” and blames Hamas for the high death toll for using civilians as "human shields.”
Algeria and Lebanon proposed at the summit to threaten to disrupt oil supplies to Israel and its allies as well as severing the economic and diplomatic ties that some Arab League nations have with Israel.
The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which normalized ties with Israel in 2020 rejected that proposal.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said a lack of concrete punitive measures against Israel would render the summit futile.
"If we do not have real tools for pressure, then any step we take or speech we give will have no meaning," said Assad.
He said no Middle Eastern country should engage in any "political process" with Israel, including developing economic relations, until a lasting ceasefire is reached.
Israel and the United States have so far rejected demands for a ceasefire, a position that drew heavy criticism from Hamas supporters.
"The US has prevented the ceasefire in Gaza and is expanding the scope of the war," Raisi said.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that "it is a shame that Western countries, which always talk about human rights and freedoms, remain silent in the face of the ongoing massacres in Palestine.”
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Washington had "the greatest influence on Israel" and "bears responsibility for the absence of a political solution" to the conflict.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani called for "deterrent steps to stop the ongoing war crime" in Gaza, without going into detail.
Iran backs Hamas as well as Lebanon's Hezbollah and Yemen's Houthi rebels, placing it at the centre of concerns the war could expand.
"There is no other way but to resist Israel, we kiss the hands of Hamas for its resistance against Israel," Raisi said in his address.
Erdogan called for an international peace conference to find a permanent solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestinians.
"What we need in Gaza is not pauses for a couple of hours, rather we need a permanent ceasefire," Erdogan told the summit.
Qatar's Emir Al-Thani said his country is mediating the release of Israeli hostages and hopes that a humanitarian truce would be reached. Several Hamas leaders live in Qatar.
"For how long will the international community treat Israel as if it is above international laws," he said.
Hamas had asked the summit to make an “historic and decisive decision and move to stop the Zionist aggression immediately.”
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