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Don't underestimate the Muslim-Arab group working for a ceasefire via diplomacy

In the present Hamas-Israel war, the unity of the Arab countries is the most solid compared to previous Arab-Israel conflicts.

Jamari Mohtar
6 minute read

Say what you want about Arab unity, but in the present Hamas-Israel war, the unity of the Arab countries is the most solid compared to previous Arab-Israel conflicts.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, for instance, is consistent with his stance that Egypt will not allow Palestinians in Gaza to pass into the Rafah crossing because he does not want to see an Israeli victory with its Greater Israel (Eretz Yisrael) project by depopulating Gaza of the Palestinians.

In fact, Egypt allows its Rafah crossing to be the starting point for all humanitarian assistance from all over the world to enter the war-torn Gaza.   

And when the Hamas political bureau made an appeal to Egypt to let the seriously injured Palestinians including premature babies enter the Rafah crossing for treatment in Egypt, the latter promptly acceded to the request because of the dire and tragic state of all hospitals in Gaza due to Israel’s bombings of hospitals there. 

Jordan has been more aggressive, giving an ultimatum that any attempt by Israel to depopulate Gaza of Palestinians would be a declaration of war.

It not only recalled its ambassador to Israel but also told the Israeli ambassador who had fled home to Israel in fear of his life due to a massive pro-Palestine protest in Amman not to return to Jordan until he had solved the issue of a Palestinian statehood.
Jordan and the UAE led the efforts of the Arab group in the UN working together with Russia, China and Brazil to urge the UN Security Council (UNSC) to adopt a resolution for a humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza war.

Although these efforts initially failed due to a US veto, the Arab group didn’t give up and instead pushed for the same resolution in the UN general assembly, which voted overwhelmingly for the resolution. 

Later, the Arab group persisted in its efforts to push for the same resolution in the UNSC which finally adopted it without a US veto.

Due to these efforts of the Arab group in the UN which was supported by Muslim countries and the Global South, along with support from Brics nations, there was for the first time in 75 years a sea-change in global public opinion which began to condemn the Israel onslaught of Palestinian civilians as a war of genocide.   

Massive pro-Palestine protests where hundreds of thousands of people participate take place every week all over the world. In these protests, participants from all walks of life chant "Free Palestine!", "Stop the genocide!", "Stop the killing of Palestinian children and babies!", and demand that Israel’s political and military leaders be arrested and put on trial for war crimes.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia led the way in holding a joint session of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to discuss the Arab-Muslim world’s response to Israel’s atrocities in killing tens of thousands Palestinian civilians.

Held in Riyadh on Nov 11, the summit adopted a resolution which underscored the centrality of the Palestinian cause, their support for the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people to liberate their occupied territories, and the need to end the Israeli aggression which separates Gaza from the West Bank, including Al Quds Al Sharif. 

The resolution affirmed that Israel and all the states in the region will never enjoy security and peace unless Palestinians enjoy them and reclaim all their usurped rights.
Among others, the resolution contained political, legal, and humanitarian steps, including breaking the siege on Gaza, ensuring the entry of Arab, Islamic, and international humanitarian aid convoys, and supporting Egypt’s efforts to deliver aid. 

And most important of all, it established two specialised legal monitoring units to document all the crimes of the occupation authorities in Gaza since Oct 7 and prepare evidence on the Israeli violations, and affirmed its support for the legal and political initiatives of the state of Palestine at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the International Criminal Court (ICC), and the Human Rights Council (HRC). 

It also requested the prosecutor of the ICC to continue its investigation into the war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people.

The resolution also mandated the foreign ministers of the joint summit and the secretary generals of the two organisations, and any other interested country, to start immediate international action on behalf of all member states to stop the war on Gaza. 

The resolutions also demanded that all countries stop exporting weapons and ammunition to the occupation authorities that are used by their army and terrorist settlers to kill the Palestinian people and destroy their homes, hospitals, schools, mosques, churches, and property.

Many analysts and Muslims all over the world prefer to see these resolutions in a negative light, highlighting the disunity of the Arab-Muslim world and forgetting that these resolutions are in a way unprecedented.

They fail to see that the setting up of specialised legal monitoring units has galvanised many NGOs all over the world to start the due process of arresting Israeli politicians and military leaders to be charged with war crimes and genocide at the ICJ, ICC and HRC.

These monitoring teams are working hand-in-hand with the UN to get a resolution either through the UNSC or the general assembly for the ICC or ICJ to issue warrants of arrest against the Israeli political and military leaders.

The critics of also failed to see that most of the resolutions such as ensuring the entry of humanitarian aid convoys and supporting Egypt’s efforts to deliver aid have already become a reality. 

Granted, there was a delay in making this a reality but this was due to Israel’s intransigence and the US’ impotence in ensuring that Israel allows this to happen as soon as possible.

Of course, there is a valid point to the criticism on the slow pace of ensuring that the resolution is acted upon in the sense that will it take a certain number of Palestinian civilian deaths – 20,000, 50,000 or 100,000 – to finally goad not only the Arab-Muslim world but also the whole world into action and to tell the Israelis that enough is enough.

Again, this thinking ignores the fact that the combined military prowess of Israel’s immediate Arab neighbours (Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon) is not strong enough to defeat Israel which is being backed by the US in order to speedily enforce the resolutions, and that hence, a diplomatic approach has to be used which is of course slow-going in delivering results.

In fact, when the resolution calls for the Arab-Islamic world and any interested countries to initiate international action to stop the war on Gaza, this is actually a call for military action which is not limited to Israel’s immediate Arab neighbours to be taken against Israel in enforcing a ceasefire. 

But is the world ready for such action? Many regional and world powers like Russia and China would prefer to contain the present conflict from evolving into a major war that might just result in a world war.

And this is the right thing to do, for every human being will suffer horribly in a world war. They are just waiting for the right time for a joint military action to enforce a ceasefire that won’t escalate into a regional war.

So does this wait mean that the lives of Palestinian civilians are just a statistic pending this endgame? 

No, every noble endeavour – in this case, the war (military action) to stop the genocidal war – requires major sacrifices for the greater good.

As former US marine officer and former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter said: "If you ask the majority of Palestinians if you could die, give your life for the birth of the Palestinian nation, they would say yes because for 75 years that’s all they dream of, and now thanks to Hamas they have that possibility."

Since the majority of the Palestinians are Muslims, they are very much aware of the concept of martyrdom in Islam where martyrs are not only the combatants who die in a noble war against oppression but also common people who die a gruesome death brought about by oppressive and cruel individuals, soldiers or a state entity.

The words of Allah must have rung clear for all Palestinians: "Do not say regarding those who are slain in the path of God that they are dead; rather they are alive but you are not aware" (Quran 2:154) or "Do not consider as dead those who are slain in the path of God; rather they are alive and well-provided for in the presence of their Lord" (Quran 3:169).

Jamari Mohtar is the editor of Let’s Talk!, an e-newsletter on current affairs.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.