The Gulf Cooperation Council has stressed that it remains committed to Israeli withdrawal from all Arab territories it has occupied since 1967. Without this, says the GCC, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace will not be realised.
The occupied territories in question are in Palestine, the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and parts of South Lebanon. Withdrawal as a condition for peace along with the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital are the principles that were included in the Arab Peace Initiative and are reflected in related international resolutions.
In a statement issued on Tuesday after its meetings in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, the GCC congratulated the Palestinian people and their leadership on the UN recognition of Palestine as a non-member observer state. The organisation also expressed hope that this will constitute a serious step towards the establishment of a viable Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Renewing its calls for unity in Palestinian ranks, reconciliation and giving priority to the interests of the Palestinian people, the GCC condemned Israel's settlement policies which are intended to change the geographic and demographic features of the Palestinian territories. The council said that it regards such policies as "criminal" and serious violations of international law.
The GCC welcomed the Gaza ceasefire, which was brokered by Egypt, and stressed the need to avoid any repeat of Israel's aggression. It blamed Israel and said that it holds the state legally responsible for the offensive. The council called on the international community to provide and deliver much-needed humanitarian aid to Gaza. It lauded the efforts of NGOs provided assistance to the Palestinians, especially in the Gaza Strip.