Arab ministers urge UN Security Council to help halt Israeli attacks

Meeting in Moscow is second leg of foreign ministers' tour, with Israel-Gaza ceasefire top of its agenda

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, centre, poses with counterparts from the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, in Moscow on Tuesday. AFP
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A committee of foreign ministers formed at the recent Arab-Islamic summit has urged the UN Security Council to take responsibility for attempting to restore peace to Gaza.

At a meeting in Moscow on Tuesday, the group stressed the importance of ending not only hostilities in the besieged enclave, but also "Israeli violations of international law".

The gathering in the Russian capital is the second leg of the delegation's tour, the aim of which is to push for a ceasefire and seek a permanent solution to the Israel-Gaza war.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said after meeting his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov: “It is not possible to talk about the future of Gaza before a ceasefire and an end to all forms of violence against civilians.

“This human tragedy in Gaza cannot be justified under the pretext of self-defence.”

He called for “an implementation of a serious and just peace process, which enjoys the support of the international community”.

Mr Lavrov, who is hosting the meetings in Russia, said President Vladimir Putin has been in touch with Palestinian and Israeli officials since the war broke out, adding that the "reaction to terrorism shouldn't breach international law".

"We condemn terrorism in any form or manifestation without exception, but to fight terrorism we need to use methods that do not translate into collective punishment and do not run counter [to], do not violate in a blatant way humanitarian legal provisions,” Mr Lavrov said.

“This context shows the potential catastrophe that can occur if international law is ignored."

Russia’s Foreign Minister also stressed the need to engage Middle Eastern countries in the quest for a long-term Israeli-Palestinian settlement, saying they “understand better than anyone else how to reach a solution that will satisfy everyone”.

Russia has condemned Israel over the number of civilian casualties since the outbreak of the war on October 7 – despite previous close relations with the country – and reaffirmed its long-standing support for a permanent two-state solution to the conflict. The delegation arrived in Moscow from Beijing, where its campaign started on Monday with a meeting hosted China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

"We are here to send a clear signal: we must immediately stop the fighting and the killings, we must immediately deliver humanitarian supplies to Gaza," Prince Faisal said.

The delegation is set to meet officials representing permanent members of the Security Council.

The group was formed this month at a summit of the Arab League and Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) in Riyadh. It includes foreign ministers and representatives from Turkey, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and the Palestinian Authority, as well as OIC Secretary General, Hissein Brahim Taha.

Updated: November 21, 2023, 3:00 PM