Riyadh will host the leaders of Iran, Turkey, Syria and other countries to discuss the Israel-Gaza war.
Saudi Arabia is hosting an extraordinary summit on Saturday, bringing together Islamic and Arab world nations to discuss the dire situation in Gaza.
The kingdom’s foreign ministry announced the news late Friday that Saudi Arabia is initially scheduled to host two summits, one at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and one at the Arab League. A joint summit emerged as an alternative after the Saudis consulted with members of the two major organizations.
According to the ministry, the joint meeting “will be held in response to the exceptional circumstances taking place in the Palestinian Gaza Strip, as countries must combine efforts to come out with a unified joint position”.
The OIC has member states from across the Islamic world, including the Palestinian territories’ neighbors Egypt and Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.
President Ibrahim Raisi is also expected to attend the meeting in Riyadh, marking the first visit by an Iranian president in 11 years, as Iran has repeatedly warned that the scope of the war could widen if Israel does not end its attacks.
“Gaza is not a field for words. It should be for action,” Raisi said before leaving for Riyadh on Saturday, adding that the Palestinian issue has become a major issue not only for the Muslim world but for the entire world.
“The atrocities now being committed by the Zionist regime in Gaza are clear examples of war crimes and crimes against humanity,” he said.
“The Americans say in their comments and messages that they don’t want the scope of the war to expand, but this claim is in no way relevant to their actions because the fuel for the Israeli war machine is supplied by the Americans.”
Hold Israel ‘in charge’
Despite growing calls for an immediate ceasefire, particularly from Arab and Islamic countries, Israel has not let up its attacks on the Gaza Strip.
Relentless airstrikes and ground attacks have killed at least 11,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, in response to Hamas’ October 7 offensive that killed 1,200 Israelis.
Israel has significantly stepped up attacks on hospitals in recent days, and the United Nations has said the lives of a million children in Gaza are “hanging by a thread.”
The Arab League consists of 22 countries, including Syria, which was readmitted earlier this year after Arab leaders resumed talks with President Bashar al-Assad following a decade of civil war in the country.
The camp’s assistant secretary-general, Hossam Sagi, said this week “aims to demonstrate on the international stage how Arabs will stop the occupation, support Palestine and its people, condemn the Israeli occupation and take responsibility for its crimes”.
The extraordinary joint summit comes amid a flurry of diplomatic activity in the region and beyond. Saudi Arabia hosted an African-Saudi summit in Riyadh on Friday, where Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called for an end to the war.
The leaders of Russia, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan met in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana on Thursday to discuss the situation in Gaza.