Saudi prince slams Israeli aggression in Gaza

Published November 11, 2023
This handout picture provided by the Palestinian Authority’s press office (PPO) shows Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (C) arriving in Saudi Arabia on November 10, 2023, ahead of a summit. — AFP
This handout picture provided by the Palestinian Authority’s press office (PPO) shows Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (C) arriving in Saudi Arabia on November 10, 2023, ahead of a summit. — AFP

• Abbas ready to assume responsibility in coastal territory • Blinken says ‘more needs to be done’ to protect civilians

RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman denounced the conduct of Israeli forces in Gaza on Friday, ahead of weekend summits that will focus on the unfolding violence in the Palestinian territory.

“We condemn the military aggression witnessed in the Gaza Strip, the targeting of civilians, and the continued violations of international humanitarian law by the Israeli occupation forces,” Prince Mohammed told a summit with African leaders, his first public comments on the Gaza crisis.

“We stress the necessity of stopping this war and forced displacement and creating conditions for the return of stability and achieving peace.”

His comments at the Saudi-Africa summit came one day before Riyadh hosts two emergency meetings on the fighting in Gaza — one of the Arab League and the other of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission, on Friday also condemned the “obscene violence” afflicting Palestinians. “We call for a real and practical leap to stop the immediate destruction of Gaza and the killing of thousands of its people in order to give a strong impetus to a political solution by adopting the two-state solution,” he said.

In Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority said it was ready to assume responsibilities in the Gaza Strip as part of a comprehensive political solution for the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas said on Friday.

In a speech marking the 19th anniversary of the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Abbas said: “In these difficult and catastrophic circumstances, there are no words to describe the genocidal war and destruction inflicted upon our Palestinian people in Gaza by the Israeli killing machine, with blatant disregard for international law”, the Wafa news agency quoted him as saying.

Abbas reaffirmed that “Gaza is an integral part of the state of Palestine, and we will assume our full responsibilities within the framework of a comprehensive political solution, encompassing the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.”

In addition, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said “much more needed to be done to end the misery of Palestinians”.

Talking to reporters in New Delhi as he wrapped up a nine-day trip to the Middle East and Asia, he said: “Far too many Palestinians have been killed; far too many have suffered these past weeks.

“And we want to do everything possible to prevent harm to them and to maximise the assistance that gets to them,” he said.

Washington would be discussing further steps with Israel to advance these objectives, Blinken added.

“But I was also very clear that much more needs to be done in terms of protecting civilians and getting humanitarian assistance to them.” Blinken said.

Meanwhile, South Africa has called in Israel’s ambassador to discuss what it described as his recent “unfortunate conduct” linked to the unrest in Gaza, the foreign ministry in Pretoria said.

The ministry said Eliav Belotsercovsky received the order on Thursday, but it did not go into details on his conduct.

“Ambassador Belotsercovsky is called upon to conduct himself in line with the Vienna Conventions, which accord heads of diplomatic missions certain privileges and responsibilities, key amongst which is to recognise the sovereign decisions of the host nation,” the South African statement said.

“Ambassador Belotsercovsky was once again called upon to convey South African Government concerns to Tel Aviv,” it added.

The statement on Friday reiterated calls for a ceasefire and said that South Africa wants the International Criminal Court to investigate the leadership of Israel for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2023

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