Top Arab diplomats call for irreversible steps to create Palestinian state

Foreign ministers of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar and Jordan met in Riyadh to discuss Gaza war

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan, centre right, with, from left, PLO secretary general Hussein Al-Sheikh, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al Thani, Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Al-Safadi and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Thursday.  EPA
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Top Arab diplomats and officials held talks on the war in Gaza and reiterated calls for "irreversible" steps towards the creation and recognition of a Palestinian state.

The meeting, led by Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, was held in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, late on Thursday.

It was attended by the foreign ministers of the UAE, Egypt, Qatar and Jordan, as well as a senior Palestinian official, according to the kingdom's state media.

The meeting, which followed the conclusion of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's fifth crisis tour of the Middle East since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war in October, was aimed at promoting a unified Arab position on the war, two diplomats told AFP.

"In their meeting, the ministers emphasised the need to end the war in the Gaza Strip, reach an immediate and complete ceasefire, ensure the protection of civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law, and lift all restrictions that impede the entry of humanitarian aid into the enclave," the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The top ministers also voiced support for UNRWA, the UN Palestinian aid agency that is under fire over Israeli accusations that 12 of its staff members were involved in Hamas's October 7 attack on Israel, which triggered the war.

"They also stressed the importance of taking irreversible steps to implement the two-state solution and recognise the state of Palestine on the borders of June 4, 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital," SPA said.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly stated its affirmation that there must be a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital as a solution to the decades-long Arab-Israeli conflict.

Israel vowed to eliminate Hamas in response to the October 7 attacks, launching air strikes and a ground offensive that have killed at least 27,840 people, mostly women and children, according to the Gaza health ministry.

US President Joe Biden on Thursday levelled some of his most direct criticism at Israel since it invaded the Gaza Strip in October, saying the actions of its military have been “over the top”.

Updated: February 09, 2024, 10:21 AM