Inside Story

Will the Arabs speak up for Gaza?

We look at how a changing Middle East could affect the way the Gaza-Israel conflict plays out.
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2012 14:15

It is a conflict that had been pushed from the headlines by the Arab Spring, now the stand-off between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip has been reignited.

" The peace treaty between Egypt with Israel calls for stability for all the region but what is happening now is causing instability. What they [Israel] are making now is just chaos. This is totally against the peace treaty."

- Mohammad Soudan, Egypt's Freedom and Justice party

But are Arab nations now more willing to speak up for the Palestinians or are they more concerned with their own political agendas?

Israel and Gaza have traded a volley of rockets and airstrikes across the border, for months. But the the crisis escalated when Israel killed Ahmed Jabari, the leader of Hamas' military wing, on Wednesday.

Hamas avenged the assassination by launching  hundreds of rockets from Gaza, one of them killing three Israelis. Meanwhile, Israeli airstrikes have killed dozens of Palestinians, many of them women and children.

Arab leaders have denounced Israel's assault and called for a ceasefire but on Sunday, Benyamin Netanyahu, Israel's Prime Minister, said the country was preparing to significantly expand the Gaza offensive.

The last time Israel launched a full-on assault on Gaza was 2008 - but the political realities on the ground now are very different.

Follow the latest developments in the ongoing conflict 

The Arab Spring has brought revolution to countries across the region; Egypt, one of only two Arab countries to have a peace agreement with Israel, is now being lef by the Muslim brotherhood - of which Hamas is an offshoot.

The Arab League has since been meeting in Cairo to discuss the crisis with its chief Nabil al-Arabi, saying he will head a delegation to Gaza to affirm solidarity with the Palestinians.

"Hamas is quite content with the Egyptian response so far. They have hailed courage of President Morsi and his prime minister. Egypt is now a theatre for meetings and Arab senior officials and diplomats to see the best way of expressing solidarity with Hamas and the people of Gaza."

- Azzam Tamimi, Institute of Islamic Political Thought

Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's president has also condemned Israel's aggression and responded with several diplomatic measures, including recalling his ambassador to Tel Aviv and opening the Rafah border crossing for wounded Gazans. "If a ground invasion takes place, as Israelis are saying, this will have serious repercussions for the region. We will never accept this and neither will the free world."

Qatar is one of the countries taking the lead on the Gaza crisis. The Gulf nation's Emir visited Gaza last month, the first head of state to do so since Hamas took control.

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani said: "The stance taken by the Arab countries following the Arab Spring revolutions is different; if we recall in 2008 Egypt was not able to provide anything to the people of Gaza; now and in the light of the new change, Egypt's PM pays a visit to Gaza, Tunisian FM goes to Gaza, I headed to Gaza weeks ago. If there is no change, none could have happened.

"The situation is totally different now; and we should consider the way we deal with the situation in Gaza. Gaza has been besieged and it is time to ask the Israelis to end this siege. We also thank Egypt for opening Rafah Crossing for humanitarian aid to pass."

So will the new political dynamic in the region translate into more tangible support for Gaza, and the Palestinian cause?

Inside Story, with presenter Shiulie Ghosh, discusses with guests: Khaled Elgindy, a fellow at the Saban centre for Middle East Policy and the Brookings Institution, he also recently served as an adviser to the Palestinian leadership on permanent status negotiations with Israel; Mohammad Soudan, the foreign relations secretary for the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing, the Freedom and Justice party; and Azzam Tamimi, the author of Hamas: Unwritten Chapters and director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought.


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