Saudi Arabia’s realistic peace proposal gaining traction globally

Saudi Arabia’s realistic peace proposal gaining traction globally

Prince Faisal bin Farhan chaired the ministerial consultative meeting of the six-party Arab Committee in Riyadh (SPA)
Prince Faisal bin Farhan chaired the ministerial consultative meeting of the six-party Arab Committee in Riyadh (SPA)
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Amid ongoing efforts to foster peace in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia recently played host to a significant diplomatic gathering. In late April, the third consultative ministerial meeting of the six-party Arab Committee, comprising Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Qatar and the UAE, convened. The agenda centered on discussions regarding the Israeli military campaign in the Gaza Strip and its repercussions on regional stability.

Against the backdrop of escalating regional tensions and direct military confrontations, the participating nations highlighted the pressing need to address the evolving security challenges. Of particular concern were the potential threats to regional and international interests, underscored by the recent upheavals stemming from the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the ongoing economic strain exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This gathering served as a platform to deliberate on strategies aimed at mitigating risks and advancing diplomatic initiatives to safeguard peace in the region.

The meeting, spearheaded by Saudi Arabia, underscored the Arab world’s commitment to three core principles in addressing the Israeli military campaign in Gaza. Against the backdrop of Tel Aviv’s attempts to eradicate the Palestinian issue through actions reminiscent of the Nakba, particularly mass displacement, these principles represent a unified stance aimed at fostering peace and stability.

Firstly, there was a collective call for an immediate cessation of the hostilities in Gaza. Secondly, there was a demand for the removal of all barriers obstructing the delivery of vital humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinian population, coupled with a commitment to ensuring their protection in accordance with international humanitarian law. Lastly, the meeting advocated for the resolution of the conflict through the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, adhering to the principles of a two-state solution.

Central to Saudi Arabia’s approach is its policy of positive neutrality and active diplomacy in the Middle East

Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami

This unified approach underscores the Arab and Saudi perspective, challenging Israel’s reliance on military force and punitive measures. Despite Tel Aviv’s prolonged campaign, characterized by what is described as a policy of collective punishment, the meeting asserted that such tactics have failed to yield the desired results. Instead, the conflict has had a significant humanitarian toll, with reports indicating extensive casualties, hunger and displacement, along with internal strife within Israel. Against the backdrop of an already volatile regional landscape, these developments further exacerbate tensions and underscore the urgent need for a diplomatic resolution.

The mounting Arab, regional and international consensus on halting Israel’s military operations in Gaza and resolving the conflict through a two-state solution is bolstering the credibility of the Kingdom’s long-standing vision. From the onset of Israel’s latest war on Gaza more than six months ago, Saudi Arabia has advocated for a peaceful resolution — a stance that is gaining increasing traction and influence. Central to Saudi Arabia’s approach is its policy of positive neutrality and active diplomacy in the Middle East.

Amid growing international condemnation of the Israeli offensive in Gaza and widespread support for a two-state solution, the Kingdom’s vision is gaining prominence. This is particularly evident in the unanimous approval of a two-state solution and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state by the members of the UN Security Council, excluding the US. Furthermore, there is a burgeoning global movement, including in influential American and European universities and public arenas, exerting pressure on governments to intervene and halt the violence in Gaza.

As the momentum for peace and a negotiated settlement intensifies on multiple fronts, the Kingdom’s role as a peacemaker and advocate for regional stability is becoming increasingly significant. Through its diplomatic efforts and commitment to resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Saudi Arabia continues to shape the discourse and drive toward a peaceful resolution in the Middle East.

In addition to the aforementioned developments, there is a notable trend within international courts that have jurisdiction over war crimes and genocide to pursue legal action against the leaders of the Israeli war council for their involvement in numerous massacres within the besieged Gaza Strip. This judicial scrutiny reflects a growing global concern over the gravity of the situation and a determination to hold accountable those responsible for egregious violations of international law.

The US’ inconsistent approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict poses a significant hurdle to ongoing peace efforts

Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also voiced his unequivocal support for a two-state solution and exerted pressure on Israel to halt the ongoing warfare and grave violations against civilians and civilian infrastructure. Of particular concern are reports suggesting the presence of “mass graves” at hospitals and medical centers. Guterres has called for unfettered access for international investigators to ascertain the veracity of these claims and ensure accountability for any atrocities committed.

Moreover, there has been a resolute rejection of measures by Israel aimed at precipitating a human-made famine within Gaza, as well as strong opposition to the prospect of an Israeli military assault on the Palestinian city of Rafah. Such actions, it is argued, would only exacerbate the already dire humanitarian situation, leading to an escalation in casualties and displacements, exacerbated by the advanced weaponry and technology at Israel’s disposal, much of it supplied by the US.

Chinese diplomatic efforts are underway to mediate between the Fatah and Hamas factions within Palestinian politics, with the aim of bridging divides and fostering unity. This initiative aligns with Saudi Arabia’s pursuit of a two-state solution and underscores China’s growing involvement in regional and global affairs. By facilitating dialogue between Fatah and Hamas, China demonstrates its recognition of the pragmatic approach advocated by Saudi Arabia toward resolving the Palestinian issue. This mediation also serves China’s broader interests in the Middle East, where it seeks to promote stability and unity.

What is more, China’s engagement in Palestinian reconciliation efforts challenges the traditional justifications put forward by the US for not endorsing the establishment of a Palestinian state. In positioning itself as a peacemaker and supporter of regional stability, China emerges as a significant player in the pursuit of a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, garnering support from Arab and regional powers alike.

The US’ inconsistent approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict poses a significant hurdle to ongoing peace efforts in the Middle East, as recognized by international, Arab and Saudi stakeholders. Despite publicly endorsing a two-state solution as a pathway to resolving the conflict, Washington has repeatedly employed its veto within the UNSC to block proposed resolutions aimed at establishing an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. This contradiction undermines diplomatic endeavors and perpetuates the enduring cycle of violence and instability.

Moreover, while advocating for an end to the conflict and the promotion of security and stability in the region, the US concurrently provides extensive military and armament support to Israel. This assistance empowers Israel to sustain its military operations, including the harsh and indiscriminate targeting of civilians in Gaza.

The inconsistency of the US toward the Palestinian issue, alongside various other Middle Eastern matters, is likely to fuel a growing inclination among regional powers to explore alternatives to the existing unipolar international system. This shift may prompt a reconfiguration of the global order toward one that aligns more closely with Arab aspirations for restoring security and stability to the region.

Yet, such US duplicity could catalyze increased competition among international powers vying for influence and dominance, leading to a reshaping of traditional spheres of influence previously dominated by Washington. This dynamic presents opportunities for these powers to expand their presence, enhance their influence and assert their roles within the international system, thereby bolstering their respective positions and serving their broader strategic interests.

In conclusion, more than two decades have elapsed since the inception of the Arab Peace Initiative and 200-plus days have transpired since the initiation of the Israeli military campaign in Gaza, resulting in widespread devastation and egregious violations of human rights. Despite the prolonged conflict, Israel’s objectives, including the dismantling of resistance factions and the retrieval of hostages, remain unfulfilled.

These developments underscore the pragmatic nature of the Saudi proposal advocating for a two-state solution as a viable means to end the conflict, offering a balanced approach that acknowledges the grievances of all parties involved. Additionally, they shed light on the obstacles posed by US duplicity, which hinders efforts to achieve a resolution in the Middle East based on the principles of a two-state solution.

The prolonged delay in resolving the conflict through a two-state solution has exacted a heavy toll on all parties involved, including the US and Israel. The protracted nature of the conflict has incurred significant costs in terms of both financial resources and human lives, while also hindering the achievement of desired objectives. Additionally, the ongoing stalemate has eroded the credibility of the US on the international stage, as it grapples with competing powers seeking to assert leadership and influence in the Middle East.

Furthermore, regional powers have begun to reassess the role of the US in the Middle East, questioning its ability to effectively enforce security and stability arrangements. This shift in perspective has prompted a reevaluation of existing power dynamics and has contributed to the emergence of a new equation in the region. Central to this equation is the recognition that lasting security and stability for both Palestinian and Israeli citizens can only be realized through the implementation of a two-state solution.

  • Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami is the founder and president of the International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasanah). X: @mohalsulami
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