Middle EastAnalysis

Arab League summit calls for UN peacekeeping force in Gaza, East Jerusalem and West Bank

Meeting of Arab heads of state and government in Bahrain concludes with call for immediate end to Israel’s war in Gaza and withdrawal of Israeli forces

The Arab League summit in Bahrain concluded on Thursday with a call for an immediate end to Israel’s war in Gaza, the withdrawal of Israeli forces and the cessation of its 17-year siege and blockade of the Strip.

The meeting of Arab heads of state and government condemned what it termed Israel’s “obstruction of ceasefire efforts” and the expansion of its offensive into Rafah city “despite international warnings of the disastrous humanitarian consequences” for Palestinians sheltering there.

This was the first summit since the Gaza war and the first in Bahrain. All attendees backed the summit’s calls even though Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Sudan normalised relations with Israel in 2020. With the Middle East in crisis mode, key decision-makers from Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Egypt attended the summit.

The 22-member league reiterated its long-standing commitment to “a just and comprehensive peaceful settlement of the Palestinian issue” while adopting a plan for its achievement which is certain to be rejected by Israel and its ally the United States.


The summit proposed an international peace conference to promote the Israeli evacuation of Palestinian territory it occupied in 1967 and the creation of a Palestinian state in line with the 2002 Arab plan. This pledged full relations with Israel following its complete withdrawal from Palestinian territory. The US insists this goal can be achieved only in direct negotiations between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Israel. Talks on the plan have stalled since 2014, when Israel’s current prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu was in office. Netanyahu rejects Palestinian statehood.

Despite US pressure for the formation of a pan-Arab force to assume control of Gaza after the war, the Arab representatives called for a United Nations protection and peacekeeping force to be deployed in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank. This would protect Palestinians from Israeli troops and settlers until the internationally mandated two-state solution is implemented. The league called on the UN Security Council to present a timetable for this to proceed.

The Arab states seek the emergence of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza with its capital in East Jerusalem. This sector of the city was annexed by Israel, which has planted 517,000 settlers in the West Bank and 200,000 in East Jerusalem, according to Israeli statistics.

The summit urged the Fatah and Hamas movements to end their rivalry and called for all Palestinian factions to unite under the umbrella of the PLO. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have long demanded PLO membership, which the dominant Fatah has rejected. Israel and the US seek to exclude Hamas from Palestinian governance.

The league strongly condemned attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden by Houthi militants in Yemen. The aim of the attacks is to exert pressure on the West to bring about an end to the Gaza war.

The league was founded in 1945 to resolve disputes, promote co-operation and seek regional security.