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The joint Arab League and Organisation of Islamic Co-operation summit has called for an arms embargo against Israel after concluding three days of talks on their collective response and action regarding the developments in Gaza.
“We demand all countries to stop exporting weapons and ammunition to the occupation authorities that are used by their army and the terrorist settlers who kill the Palestinian people and destroy their homes, hospitals, schools, mosques and churches,” the final communique read.
The leaders called on the International Criminal Court to complete its investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinian people in all the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.
Specifically, the leaders also called for the establishment of two specialised legal monitoring units to document Israeli crimes committed in the Gaza Strip since October 7 and to prepare to file legal proceedings in international courts.
Saudi Arabia and the other countries called on Saturday for an immediate end to military operations in Gaza, declaring at the joint summit in Riyadh that Israel bears responsibility for “crimes” against Palestinians.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gathered Arab and Muslim leaders for the summit as the kingdom seeks to exert its influence to press the US and Israel for an end to hostilities in Gaza.
Prince Mohammed said Saudi Arabia affirmed 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 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 US to end Israeli “aggression”.
An earlier draft of a resolution seen by The National by the Arab League that had been drafted since Thursday failed to gain a majority vote after several countries voted against the inclusion of a clause that called for the complete cut in diplomatic ties with Israel.
Saudi Arabia had initially scheduled to host two separate extraordinary summits, of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation and the Arab League, to be held on Saturday and Sunday. The joint summit then replaced the two gatherings in light of the “extraordinary” Gaza situation, the Saudi Foreign ministry said.
Hamas had called on the summit to take “a historic and decisive decision and move to stop the Zionist aggression immediately”.
Tunisia and Iraq were the only two states to abstain in the vote for the final resolution and communique.
“Tunisia has reservations on everything stated in the resolution, except for the points related to the immediate cessation of aggression against the Palestinian people, the introduction of humanitarian aid and immediately lifting the siege on all of Palestine,” read a footnote in the final resolution.
Iraq said it objected to the “two-state solution” phrase “wherever it appears in the resolution, as it conflicts with Iraqi law”.
“It also expressed reservation on the phrase ‘killing civilians’ because it equates the Palestinian martyr with the Israeli settler,” Iraq added in its abstention.
Iranian call to arm Palestinians
Both President Bashar Al Assad of Syria and Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, whose countries recently re-established ties with Saudi Arabia, also spoke at the summit.
They called for more tangible action against Israel.
Mr Al Assad said a lack of concrete punitive measures against Israel would render the summit ineffective.
"If we do not have real tools for pressure, then any step we take or speech we give will have no meaning," he said.
Syria was welcomed back into the Arab fold earlier this year after an extended isolation over the country's civil war.
Mr Al Assad said no Middle Eastern country should engage in any "political process" with Israel, until a lasting ceasefire is reached.
Mr Raisi meanwhile spoke over his time limit, and called for all countries to arm Palestinians if Israel’s attacks persist. It was the first time in more than a decade that a sitting Iranian president travelled to Saudi Arabia.
“Muslim countries should aid the Palestinian people by arming them” against Israel, Raisi said, adding that Israel’s army should be branded a terrorist organization.