October 23, 2023
PHNOM PENH – The leaders of the ASEAN-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have denounced attacks against civilians and called for a ceasefire in Gaza, where heavy fighting is taking place between Israeli forces and Palestine militant group Hamas.
The denunciation came during the GCC-ASEAN summit, held on October 20 in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, as the leaders exchanged views and expressed grave concerns over the developments in the Middle East’s Gaza conflict.
The summit was co-chaired by Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman and Indonesian President Joko (Jokowi) Widodo in his capacity as the ASEAN chair, in the presence of ASEAN secretary-general Kao Kim Hourn. Also present were the leaders of the GCC and ASEAN member states, including Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet.
The leaders urged a lasting ceasefire, calling on all concerned parties to pave the way for humanitarian aid, relief supplies, and other basic necessities and essential services. They also appealed for the restoration of electricity and water, and called for the unhindered delivery of fuel, food and medicine throughout Gaza.
“We call on all parties to the conflict to protect civilians, refrain from targeting them and to abide by international humanitarian law, particularly the principles and provisions of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949,” said the statement.
According to international media reports, many civilians are being held hostage or detained by Hamas, prompting the ASEAN-GCC to call for their immediate and unconditional release, especially women, children, the sick and the elderly.
“[We] urge all parties concerned to work towards a peaceful resolution to the conflict with a view to realising the two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders, in accordance with international law and the relevant UN Security Council [UNSC] resolutions,” added the ASEAN-GCC statement.
The summit attendees agreed to support the initiatives of Saudi Arabia, the EU and the League of Arab States to revive the Middle East peace process in coordination with Egypt and Jordan, and resolve the dispute between Israel and its neighbours in accordance with international law and all UN resolutions on this conflict.
Separately, on October 20, ASEAN foreign ministers also issued a statement expressing their grave concerns over the recent escalation of armed conflict in the Middle East.
They urged an immediate end to the violence to avoid further human casualties, and called for the full respect of international humanitarian law and on all parties to create safe, rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian corridors.
“We strongly condemn the acts of violence which have led to the deaths and injury of civilians, including ASEAN nationals.
“We reaffirm our support for a negotiated two-state solution that will allow both Israelis and Palestinians to live side-by-side in peace and security consistent with relevant UNSC resolutions. This will be the only viable path to resolving the root cause of the conflict,” they said.
The ministers further urged all parties to ensure the safety and security of all civilians, including ASEAN nationals, and for the release of all hostages.
They reiterated their commitment to providing emergency assistance to ASEAN nationals, in line with the ASEAN declaration on the guidelines on consular assistance by ASEAN member states’ missions, which dictate that emergency assistance will be provided to ASEAN members in third party nations during crisis situations.
“We urge the international community to support the peace process in order to ensure long-lasting peace and stability in the region.
“We have also issued our respective national statements on the escalation of armed conflicts in the Middle East,” said the statement.
According to international media reports on October 22, in the two weeks since Hamas launched their attacks on October 7, as many as 1,400 Israelis have reportedly been killed – more than 4,000 in Gaza alone – with a further one million Palestinians, half of them children, displaced.