RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Saturday said that the Kingdom rejected the targeting of unarmed civilians “in any way,” according to a foreign ministry statement.
His comments came during separate phone calls with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell to discuss violence in Gaza, which broke out on Saturday morning.
The Palestinian Hamas group launched the biggest attack on Israel in years and the assault followed months of surging violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with fatalities in the occupied West Bank hitting a scale not seen in years.
The early morning Hamas offensive by air, land and sea was met by Israeli air strikes on the blockaded coastal enclave, in the bloodiest escalation with the Palestinians since May 2021.
Prince Faisal stressed the need to stop the escalation and for all parties to respect international humanitarian law.
He also called for “concerted efforts to calm the situation and avoid further violence,” the ministry said.
The Saudi minister also held separate calls with his Qatari counterpart Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim, and his Egyptian and Jordanian counterparts, where he emphasised the need for a joint action plan.
Prior to these calls, Prince Faisal issued a statement urging an immediate cessation of hostilities and calling upon the international community to initiate a peace initiative aimed at achieving a sustainable two-state resolution.
Prince Faisal asserted last month that “there is no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict other than the two state solution”, and that while “people have started losing hope in the two-state solution, our efforts aim to bring it back to the forefront.”
Meanwhile, Blinken urged the Palestinian Authority to restore calm and stability in the West Bank in a call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the US State Department said in a statement.
Blinken “reiterated the United States’ unequivocal condemnation of the terrorist attacks by Hamas against Israel, and called on all leadership in the region to condemn them,” a State Department spokesperson said.
“The Secretary urged the Palestinian Authority to continue and enhance steps to restore calm and stability in the West Bank,” the spokesperson said.
Abbas told Blinken that “injustice” toward Palestinians is driving the conflict with Israel to an “explosion,” Palestinian news agency WAFA said.
He also said the ongoing escalation is down to the “practices of the colonialists and the Israeli occupation forces, and the aggression against Islamic and Christian sanctities,” according to WAFA.
US President Joe Biden made clear in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “we stand ready to offer all appropriate means of support,” according to the White House. He also called Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi warned “against the danger of the situation deteriorating and sliding into more violence.”
In a call with French President Emmanuel Macron, he urged international cooperation on stopping the conflict from getting worse.
Cairo has historically been a key mediator in conflicts between the two sides.
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry spoke to his Jordanian, UAE, Turkish, Russian, German, French, Russian and Spanish counterparts, and to Borrell, where he stressed the “importance of stopping the escalation and all sides’ exercising restraint.”
A foreign ministry statement said Shoukry sought to rally “international actors” to “intervene immediately.”
In a call with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, both ministers “expressed their deep concern about the progressive and dangerous deterioration of events.”
In a separate statement, Safadi warned of the “volatility” of the situation, “particularly in light of what cities and areas of the West Bank are witnessing of Israeli attacks and violations against the Palestinian people.”
Shoukry called UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed to discuss “the gravity of the current situation and the need to make every effort to prevent the security situation from getting out of control.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan held calls with his regional counterparts to discuss the fighting between Israel and the Palestinians, a foreign ministry source said, as Ankara said it stood ready to help de-escalate the situation.
The source said Fidan discussed the conflict with his Saudi, Qatari, Iranian, Palestinian and Egyptian counterparts, but did not provide any further details. The source later said Fidan had also discussed the situation with Blinken in a call.