Arab nations say Israel-Hamas truce should be extended, aid ramped up

Arab nations say Israel-Hamas truce should be extended, aid ramped up
Top diplomats from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan say that the four-day ceasefire in GAza must be extended indefinitely.
2 min read
22 November, 2023
Arab and Islamic foreign ministers have called for permanent peace in Gaza [Getty]

Arab foreign ministers welcomed an agreement for a temporary truce between Israel and Palestinian group Hamas on Wednesday but said it should be extended and become a first step toward a full cessation of hostilities.

The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan told a media briefing in London that the agreement, which includes hostage releases and stepped-up aid into the devastated Gaza Strip, should also ultimately lead to a resumption of talks for a two-state solution.

Under Wednesday's temporary ceasefire deal, Israel and Hamas agreed to a four-day pause in fighting to allow the release of 50 hostages held in Gaza in exchange for 150 Palestinians imprisoned in Israel, and the entry of humanitarian aid into the enclave.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said the humanitarian aid should be sustained and expanded, and it should not later become contingent on further hostage releases.

"Whatever humanitarian access now increases as a result of this hostage deal must remain in place and must be built upon," he said.

"There must at no point be a reduction in this access based on progress for further release of hostages ... Punishing the civilian population of Gaza for the holding of those hostages is absolutely not acceptable."

The conflict began on October 7 when Hamas burst across the border into Israel, killing 1,200 Israeli hostages, and taking about 240 hostages, according to Israeli officials.

Israel has since launched a brutal and indiscriminate bombardment and invasion of the besieged Gaza Strip, killing more than 14,000 Palestinians, including at least 5,600 children.

The Arab foreign ministers are leading a so-called contact group of mostly Muslim countries which are lobbying Israel's major allies and the UN Security Council to bring about an end to the Gaza war and move towards a permanent solution.