Bahrain: Arab Leaders Meet in Gaza-focused Summit Today

Thu May 16 2024
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MANAMA, Bahrain: Arab leaders are meeting in Bahrain today (Thursday) for a summit dominated by the war between Israel and Hamas that is raging in the Gaza Strip with no ceasefire in sight.

Heads of state and government began landing in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, on Wednesday, where the flags of the 22 members of the Arab League flew.

It is the first time the bloc has met since an emergency summit in Riyadh, the capital of neighbouring Saudi Arabia, in November, which also included leaders from the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation, based in the Saudi city of Jeddah.

At the time, global support grows for a two-state solution long advocated by Arab countries.

Western public opinion has become “more inclined to support the Palestinians and mitigate the injustices inflicted on them” since the creation of Israel more than 70 years ago.

Meanwhile, Israel has failed to achieve its war aims, including the destruction of Hamas, and is now mired in fighting that has dragged on for more than seven months.

The war erupted after an Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on southern Israel that left more than 1,170 people dead, mostly civilians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that nearly 500,000 people had been evacuated from the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where he insists he will go after the remaining Hamas battalions despite objections from US President Joe Biden.

READ ALSO: Hamas Condemns Biden Remarks on Hostages as ‘Setback’ for Gaza Truce Talks

He also disputed claims that Israeli operations there would cause a “humanitarian disaster”, although much of the international community is still unequivocally opposed to the invasion of Rafah.

Against this backdrop, and with mediator Qatar describing talks on a ceasefire and a hostage-release deal as close to deadlock, the tone of the Arab countries has changed, raising the possibility that the final declaration from Thursday’s summit could include binding measure.

In addition to the war between Israel and Hamas, Arab leaders are also expected to discuss conflicts in Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Syria, which President Bashar al-Assad is expected to attend after returning to the Arab fold last year.

Also on the agenda could be Yemeni Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea, which the rebels say are intended as a show of solidarity with the Palestinians.

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