His Majesty King Abdullah made it a point on Saturday to speak in English at an Arab-hosted summit to send a strong message to the world on the need to stop the war on Gaza. After a short Arabic introduction, the King presented one of the most concise and effective messages for peace and the need for an immediate stoppage of the carnage in Gaza without even using the term ceasefire.
King Abdullah repeated the word peace 11 times, saying that peace is part of Islamic tradition articulated in Jerusalem by Caliph Omar Bin Khattab. The Jordanian monarch put the blame of the absence of peace on the current Israeli government’s hardliners. “This has been the policy of hardline Israeli leadership, to focus solely on security over peace and create new illegal realities on the ground that render an autonomous Palestinian state unviable.”
Much of the emphasis of the King’s speech was on the suffering of Palestinians, mentioning the term Palestinian seven times. The King made perhaps the most memorable statement by saying: “Today, Israel is literally starving civilians in Gaza, but for decades, Palestinians have been starved of hope, of freedom, and a future.”
His Majesty gave special emphasis and expressed outrage over what is happening in Gaza, mentioning it seven times. I am outraged and grieved by those acts of violence waged against innocent civilians in Gaza, in the West Bank, and Israel. The relentless bombing campaign underway in Gaza as we speak is cruel and unconscionable — on every level.
The Cairo Summit for Peace, convened by Egypt and featuring participants from over 30 Arab and foreign countries as well as international organisations, was a place for King Abdullah to call on his international allies to rally for peace by repeating the term international both in terms of the absence of international law and the apathy of the international community seven times. He said that the message that Arabs are hearing is “Palestinian lives matter less than Israeli ones. Our lives matter less than other lives. The application of international law is optional. And human rights have boundaries — they stop at borders, they stop at races, and they stop at religions”. The King said that this is “a very, very dangerous message, as the consequences of continued international apathy and inaction will be catastrophic on us all”.
The King expressed concern that when the war stops there will be no accountability, repeating the term stop six times. “Because when the bombs stop falling, Israel is never held accountable, the injustices of occupation continue and the world walks away, until the next round of violence.”
In concluding his speech at the Arab League summit in Cairo, King Abdullah emphasised the need for serious negotiations to end the root causes of the conflict. His mention of the term peace 11 times included this concluding line. “It is our duty as the international community to do whatever it takes to restart a meaningful political process that can take us to a just and sustainable peace on the basis of the two-state solution. The only path to a safe and secure future for the people of the Middle East and the entire world — for the Jewish people, for Christians, for Muslims alike — starts with the belief that every human life is of equal value and it ends with two states, Palestine and Israel, sharing land and peace from the river to the sea.”
Daoud Kuttab, an award-winning Palestinian journalist, is a former professor of journalism at Princeton University.