Unanimous Muslim condemnation of Israel

PHOTO/AFP - El príncipe Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Aabdulaziz (derecha), estrechando la mano del presidente de Irán, Ebrahim Raisi, a su llegada a Riad
photo_camera PHOTO/AFP - Prince Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Aabdulaziz (right) shaking hands with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi upon his arrival in Riyadh

It had to be the war unleashed by Hamas against Israel and the latter's forceful response that led to the unprecedented meeting in Riyadh, in which up to 57 mostly Muslim countries agreed on the objective of showing themselves as a united front against the Jewish State.

At the initiative of the Saudi Arabian strongman, Mohammed bin Salman, the two summits planned in the capital of the Desert Kingdom, that of the Arab League and that of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), merged in a common position and communiqué, whose most outstanding conclusion is that of demanding an independent Palestinian state, because "neither Israel nor all the countries of the region [of the Middle East] will enjoy peace and security" if this does not happen. The document strongly condemns the Israel Defense Forces' attacks in the Gaza Strip, which have so far killed more than 11,000 people.

The Muslim leaders reject that Israel's military operations are justified as a "right of self-defense," further qualifying as a "war crime" the "collective punishment" being inflicted on Gazan Palestinians. 

But, if there was unanimity in condemning Israel, this Islamic front did not show the same alignment of views when it came to proposing common actions. As was to be expected, the most radical leader was Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who went so far as to call on all Islamic countries to designate Israel as a whole as a "terrorist organization".

Declaring himself an enemy of Israel's right to exist, the Iranian ayatollah demanded that his colleagues impose political and economic sanctions, as well as calling in all international forums for a ban on the sale of arms to Israel and even the establishment of a no-fly zone. 

Saudi Arabia, the organizer of the double summit, could not allow itself to be taken advantage of by a growing Iran, with which it re-established diplomatic relations last March. Thus, Bin Salman, without going so far as to second Raisi in his desire to "support the Palestinian resistance", which he identified with Hamas, generically extended the blame for the war in Gaza to the entire international community in a broad sense, and to the United Nations Security Council in particular. Bin Salman did, however, lead the large group of countries that called for "an end to the Israeli occupation, the dismantling of illegal settlements and a return to the 1967 borders", which would allow for a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem. 

Without qualifying Bin Salman's proposal, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was inclined to propose that all this be articulated in an international peace conference, to be held as soon as possible, at which a permanent solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be concluded".

Erdogan, precisely, had the opportunity to meet with the President of Syria, Bashar Al-Assad, who through this forum has returned to the international scene after the very long war he has waged against the opposition in his country, but which has also served for the emergence of Daesh, whose violent Islamist and anti-Western slogans have been spreading throughout the Middle East and much of Africa, especially the Sahel Strip. 

Despite some differences, this Riyadh summit once again places Israel's democracy in isolation from its surroundings. It is clear that the patient diplomatic and soft power work that Israel and the Jewish world had done to make it a respected and recognized country in the region is suffering a major setback. For the moment, Iran has had its way, and Saudi Arabia's almost imminent accession to the Abraham Accords will have to wait for a better occasion.

Riyadh could not force the machine without first concluding its own proposal to find a solution to the Palestinian problem. Moreover, and however much they may differ, this Muslim solidarity cannot be broken by any of the members in isolation on pain of having to deal with their own public opinion.

All of them have been shaken by the story of the unquestionable drama suffered by the Palestinian Gazans, so much so that they have screened and forgotten the brutal attack carried out by Hamas militiamen on October 7 and the kidnapping of 240 hostages still imprisoned in some nook and cranny of the tunnels built under the surface of Gaza.