Qatar’s FM arrives in Russia to push for immediate ceasefire in Gaza

Qatar is spearheading a major Arab-Islamic diplomatic effort, targeting key UN Security Council members to halt Israel’s attacks on Gaza.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, has kicked off his pivotal tour to Russia and the United Kingdom.

The tour came as part of a broader series of visits by foreign ministers from various Arab and Islamic nations to permanent members of the UN Security Council, aimed at advocating for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, as announced by Majid bin Mohammed Al Ansari, the official spokesman for Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Al-Ansari, in his statement to the Qatar News Agency (QNA), stressed that the tour was a direct response to the mandate decision from the joint Arab and Islamic summit held in Riyadh on November 11, 2023.

The summit’s directive was to orchestrate international action to end the ongoing war in Gaza.

This diplomatic endeavour represents the collective will of the member states of both the League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

It seeks an immediate halt to Israeli crimes in the Gaza Strip, coupled with efforts to initiate a genuine and substantive political process.

The goal is to secure a lasting and comprehensive peace based on internationally recognised parameters and to implement deterrent measures against the actions of the colonial occupation authorities, which are viewed as crimes against humanity.

Another equally important objective is to establish urgent relief corridors to prevent a humanitarian disaster in Gaza.

Joining the PM in this critical Arab-Islamic movement are high-level officials including the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriate Affairs of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and the Foreign Ministers from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the State of Palestine, the Republic of Turkey, the Republic of Indonesia, and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Also participating are the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States and the Secretary-General of the OIC.

Russia’s statements since the Oct 7

Since the start of the Israeli aggression in Gaza on October 7, 2023, the Russian Federation has taken a number of diplomatic actions and made several statements.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov strongly condemned Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, declaring it counter to international law and warning of a potential long-lasting catastrophe.

He criticised the disproportionate use of force against civilian targets and highlighted the impossibility of destroying Hamas without also devastating Gaza and its civilian population. Lavrov emphasised the need for humanitarian programs to save the population under blockade.

In response to Hamas’ capture of Russian-Israeli dual citizens during its attack on Israel, Moscow engaged directly with Hamas. The Russian government provided Hamas with a list of names and requested their release, to which Hamas showed a cooperative attitude, acknowledging Russia as a close friend and committing to the release of the hostages.

“We are very attentive to this list and we will handle it carefully because we look at Russia as our closest friend,” Russian news agency RIA quoted senior Hamas representative Moussa Abu Marzook as saying.

At the United Nations Security Council, Russia actively participated in addressing the crisis. Russia, along with China, vetoed a US-led draft resolution and proposed its own resolution.

The Russian-backed resolution, which failed to secure sufficient votes, called for a “humanitarian ceasefire” or “humanitarian pause” to enable the safe delivery of aid to civilians in Gaza. The resolution sought the immediate cancellation of the evacuation order by Israeli forces for civilians to head into southern Gaza.

Vassily Nebenzya, Russia’s Ambassador to the UN, expressed deep regret over the Council’s inability to de-escalate the situation and criticised the politicisation of the crisis by other nations​.

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