Riyadh set to host Arab ministers on Sunday for Gaza aid talks

Foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, Egypt and Palestine are expected to attend meeting

Packages fall towards northern Gaza, after being dropped from a military aircraft. Reuters
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Arab foreign ministers will convene in Riyadh on Sunday for discussions on the latest aid mechanism for Gaza and ceasefire strategies, Gulf sources told The National.

Foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, Egypt and Palestine are expected to attend the meeting.

The talks come after the UAE, US, UK and EU said they will open a sea corridor from Cyprus to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza where one-quarter of the population – more than half a million people – is one step away from famine the UN said.

US President Joe Biden said the US military would build a temporary port on Gaza's Mediterranean coast to receive humanitarian aid by sea, and the Pentagon on Friday announced it will take up to 60 days to post the US forces and resources needed to construct the floating causeway.

The Sunday meeting in Riyadh will discuss “the intensification of humanitarian aid, especially the American proposal regarding the temporary Gaza port, to determine the forces that will be deployed and the financing”, one of the sources explained to The National.

The talks will also focus on “ways to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza”, added the source. “For the time being, there is no agreement between Hamas and Israel. Perhaps something will change tomorrow.”

The US administration has repeatedly said it wants a truce in place before the start of Ramadan. But the latest round of Gaza truce negotiations ended on Thursday without a breakthrough, with the remaining members of the Hamas delegation leaving Egypt for consultations with the group’s leadership in Qatar.

In the last 24 hours, more than 82 Palestinians were killed and 122 injured, local health authorities in Gaza said. The death toll in the coastal territory since Israel's war erupted on October 7 has risen to 30,960, the enclave's Health Ministry said on Saturday.

Only a negligible amount of aid has been entering the besieged enclave by land and air drops can provide only a fraction of what can be carried aboard lorries.

The National understands that the aid sent from Larnaca in Cyprus will eventually be destined for the temporary port announced by Mr Biden. A pilot operation was launched on Friday by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides before the mission starts this weekend.

Updated: March 09, 2024, 3:53 PM