Arab League calls on UN to deploy peacekeepers in Palestinian territories

Members of the organisation agreed that the PLO is "the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people", rejecting Hamas' leadership 
El rey de Bahréin, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa (centro), posando con líderes árabes en Manama el 16 de mayo de 2024, antes de la 33ª Cumbre de la Liga Árabe - BNA (Agencia de Noticias de Bahrein) / AFP
Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa (centre) poses with Arab leaders in Manama on 16 May 2024 ahead of the 33rd Arab League Summit - BNA (Bahrain News Agency) / AFP
  1. Arab League stands with Fatah 
  2. Netanyahu rejects Palestinian statehood plan, calling it a "reward" for 7 October 

As expected, the war between Israel and Hamas was the main topic of the recent Arab League summit in Manama. In the Bahraini capital, Arab leaders called for "international protection and UN peacekeeping forces in the occupied Palestinian territories" until a two-state solution is implemented, as stated in the declaration issued at the end of the meeting by the 22 members.  

The Arab League also used the summit to insist once again on an "immediate and permanent" ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, as well as "the cessation of all attempts at forced displacement, an end to all forms of siege and full and sustainable access to aid".

In addition to the situation in Gaza, the Arab leaders also mentioned the volatile regional and international situation due to attacks by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.   

The members "strongly condemned the attacks on commercial vessels", saying they "threaten freedom of navigation, international trade and the interests of the countries and peoples of the world", reiterating the Arab League's commitment to "guarantee freedom of navigation in and around the Red Sea region".   

The summit, opened by Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, was held to call for an international conference for peace in the Middle East and to push for the creation of a Palestinian state. It is the second to be held after November's conference in Riyadh, where the bloc condemned Israel's military operation in Gaza. 

Una imagen tomada el 6 de mayo de 2024 muestra una nube de humo tras un bombardeo al este de Rafah, en el sur de la Franja de Gaza, en medio del actual conflicto entre Israel y el movimiento palestino Hamás – PHOTO/AFP
A cloud of smoke following a bombing east of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas - PHOTO/AFP

The monarch, as host of the summit, also reaffirmed his country's support for full recognition of a Palestinian state and acceptance of its membership in the United Nations. According to the king, the establishment of a Palestinian state will have "positive" repercussions in the region.  

Last week, the UN General Assembly endorsed the Palestinian bid for full UN membership and called on the UN Security Council to reconsider the application. "What the Palestinians face requires a unified international stance," declared Bahrain's king. 

For his part, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman highlighted during his speech the Kingdom's efforts to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, reiterating Riyadh's support for issues in the Arab world. He also urged the international community to support ceasefire efforts and stop the aggression against Palestinian civilians. 

Arab League stands with Fatah 

In addition to unity around the Palestinian state, Arab leaders also agreed that the Palestine Liberation Organisation - represented by the ruling Fatah movement in the West Bank - is "the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people".  

The Arab League has therefore urged "all Palestinian factions to unite under the umbrella of the Palestine Liberation Organisation", reiterating its rejection of a Hamas government. The US has also raised the possibility of Fatah rule in Gaza once the war in the enclave is over.  

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has again criticised the terrorist organisation for giving Israel the "pretext to attack" Gaza after the brutal attack on 7 October. 

"Hamas's refusal to end the division serves Israel's interest in ending the two-state solution," he said, recalling the historic tensions between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. 

El presidente de la Autoridad Palestina, Mahmoud Abbas - AFP/ADEM ALTAN
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas - AFP/ADEM ALTAN

Abbas lamented that the Palestinian government has not received the financial support it expected from international and regional partners, accusing Israel of "withholding funds and creating a terrible situation". The Palestinian leader called for support from Arab countries and the US to put pressure on Israel to release the funds

"It has now become essential to activate the Arab security network, increase the resilience of our people and enable the government to fulfil its duties," added Abbas, who also urged the international community to start immediately with the implementation of the two-state solution. 

REUTERS/NIR ELIAS - Vista general muestra las casas palestinas en el pueblo de Wadi Fukin mientras que el asentamiento israelí de Beitar Illit se ve al fondo, en la Cisjordania ocupada
General view shows Palestinian homes in the village of Wadi Fukin while the Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit is seen in the background, in the West Bank - REUTERS/NIR ELIAS 

Netanyahu rejects Palestinian statehood plan, calling it a "reward" for 7 October 

Despite widespread support for a Palestinian state in the international community, Israel has repeatedly expressed its rejection of the plan, which it sees as a "reward for the terrible massacre of 7 October", as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it after the UN resolution on the recognition of a Palestinian nation. 

Netanyahu, based on a poll published months after 7 October, recalled that the majority of the population in the West Bank - where Fatah rules - supports Hamas, even after the attacks on the Israeli population and the subsequent war provoked by this invasion.  

This is one of the reasons why the Abbas government in the West Bank has not held elections for the past 18 years. In Ramallah, they are aware of the lack of popular support among Palestinians, who are dissatisfied with their policy of security cooperation with Israel, as well as the lack of opportunities and corruption.   

As a result, 90% of Palestinians believe that Abbas should step down, while 57% of respondents in Gaza and 82% in the West Bank believe that Hamas did the right thing in launching the 7 October attack, despite the subsequent destruction in Gaza.  

Un palestino sostiene banderas de Hamás
A Palestinian holds Hamas flags - AFP/JOHN MACDOUGALL

For this reason, in Israel it is not only Netanyahu who opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state. Regardless of ideology and political party, the vast majority believe that the time is not right to push this plan forward. 

"The Palestinians should not be allowed to consider 7 October as their Independence Day. The world must not send them the message that gang rape works (referring to the numerous sexual assaults by Hamas). They should not remember 7 October as a moment that advanced their cause," Eylon Levy, a former Israeli government spokesperson, said on social media.