The Jordanian monarch recalled the 11 days of fighting between Israel and the Gaza Strip earlier this year in his address to the United Nations, saying the latest round of conflict was a reminder that the status quo is “unsustainable.”
The May war was the fourth in Gaza since the Islamic terrorist group Hamas took power in 2007. There have been 13 deaths in Israel, including one soldier as Hamas fired thousands of rockets at the country which has responded with intensive airstrikes on terrorist targets. Over 4,000 homes in Gaza have been destroyed or severely damaged. More than 250 people have been killed in Gaza, including dozens of children and women, according to the UN. Israel believes about half of those killed were fighters.
“But how many more houses will be lost?” How many more children will die before the world wakes up? Said King Abdullah, who delivered his prerecorded remarks to the United Nations General Assembly from a distance, though around 100 heads of state and government are attending in person amid the COVID-19 pandemic . “Genuine security for both sides – indeed, for the whole world – can only be achieved through the two-state solution. “
He reiterated that such a solution must result in an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel in peace.
The Jordanian King is a close ally of the United States and his nation has custody of the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem, a sacred site to both Muslims and Jews. The area was the scene of violent clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian worshipers in the final days of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in May.
The Saudi monarch used his speech to highlight his country’s long-standing public stance on the Palestinian state, saying that lasting peace must ensure an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Screenshot of video of Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, King of Saudi Arabia, as he remotely addresses the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in a pre-recorded message, at headquarters by the UN, September 22, 2021 (UN Web TV via AP)
King Salman bin Abdulaziz also expressed hope that the kingdom’s direct talks with Iran will lead to a boost in confidence as the two bitter regional rivals take small steps towards dialogue after several years of heightened tensions.
Salman made the remarks in a pre-recorded speech to leaders gathered for the United Nations General Assembly. He said Iran is a neighbor of Saudi Arabia and the kingdom hopes that talks between the two nations can lead to tangible results that pave the way for realizing the aspirations of people in the region.
He warned, however, that relations should be based on respect for national sovereignty and ending support for sectarian militias.
Relations between Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and Shia-ruled Iran hit a low when the Trump administration exerted maximum pressure on Iran. During these years, Iran has been accused of being behind several attacks on energy targets in the Persian Gulf, including a stunning strike on an Aramco refinery in 2019, and of supporting fighters. Houthis in Yemen, where the kingdom has been at war for more than six years. years.
In April, it was learned that the rivals had held a first round of talks in Iraq after the election of President Joe Biden. Trump pulled the United States out of a nuclear deal in 2018; Biden said the United States wanted to return to the pact, although talks have stalled.
The two regional enemies met again in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, according to the semi-official Iranian news agency Mehr.
The site reported on Wednesday that a meeting of foreign ministers and officials from Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan and France had taken place. The head of EU foreign policy was also present. The meeting was chaired by the Iraqi Foreign Minister.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabollahian was quoted by Mehr as saying that the priority of the new Iranian government “is to strengthen and develop relations with its neighbors and the region”. He also met the Finnish, German, Austrian, Swiss and Croatian foreign ministers on Tuesday in New York, according to Mehr.
Newly sworn-in Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi remained in Iran amid the ongoing pandemic. He harshly criticized US policies in his remote address to the UN meeting on Tuesday, shortly after Biden’s in-person remarks.
King Salman reiterated Saudi concerns over Iran’s nuclear program, which Tehran says is for peaceful energy purposes.
He acknowledged the “economic hardships,” but said despite such challenges, the kingdom remains a major donor of humanitarian aid and global efforts to fight COVID-19 as a group of 20 nations. The coronavirus pandemic caused oil prices to plummet last year, eating away at the kingdom’s main source of income. Saudi Arabia has led major oil producers in a pact to cut production to help support oil prices.