The foreign ministers of the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) issued a communiqué today at the end of their 24th extraordinary conference in Jeddah. In addition to Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal and GCC Secretary-General Jamil Al-Hujeilan, the participants were Sheikh Muhammad bin Sabah Al-Salim Al-Sabah of Kuwait, Rashid bin Abdullah Al-Naimi of the United Arab Emirates, Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah of Oman, Sheikh Hamda bin Jassem bin Jabr Al-Thani of Qatar, and Sheikh Muhammad bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa of Bahrain, who chaired the conference.
The communiqué expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the recent tour by Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, praising his efforts to explain to western Europeans the Arab stance towards the current developments in the Middle East, including the right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state with Al-Quds [Jerusalem] as its capital.
Expressing profound concern at the deteriorating situation in the West Bank and Gaza as a result of Israel's excessive brutality in using the most aggressive means against the struggling Palestinian people in continuation of the imposed siege, the GCC foreign ministers warned that silence in face of this dangerous situation threatens the security and stability of the entire region; called for an end to Israel's flagrant violations of its peace process commitments and of the United Nations resolutions that aim to protect civilians; and stressed the need for prompt and effective action by the international community and the co-sponsors of the Middle East peace process, particularly the United States of America, in order to realize peace in the region.
The main threat to security, the communiqué stated, are the settlements, which are preventing the progress of the peace process as recorded in the Mitchell Report. The current deterioration of the situation and the wave of violence have their roots in the continued Israeli occupation of Arab territory, and in the violation of signed agreements between the two parties. The GCC foreign ministers demand that the siege imposed on the Palestinian people be lifted, and an end made to the continuing disruption of financial resources that prevent Palestinian workers from contributing to the Palestinian Authority's economy. Obligations on Palestinians without corresponding obligations on Israelis, they asserted, will neither achieve calm nor end the spiraling violence. The communiqué declared that the presence of effective international monitoring in tense areas is necessary, and condemned the policy of escalation and violence by the Israeli government against neighboring countries that is pushing the region to the brink of chaos and threatening its security and stability. This policy includes Israel's repeated attacks against Lebanese and Syrian defense installations.
The communiqué stressed the importance of expediting payment of Arab financial donations to the Palestinian Authority to enable it to face the serious situation and the circumstances being imposed on it, and recommended an Arab follow-up committee to hold an ad hoc meeting to study the situation.