Hen Mazzig

At last we can see true Arab solidarity with Israel

We have depended on America alone, but maybe with our cousins we can create a better Middle East


The signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords on the South Lawn of the White House on September 15, 2020 (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

April 16, 2024 16:44

As nearly nine million Israelis — including my own family — were sheltering in bunkers on Saturday evening in anticipation of an impending military offensive by the Islamic Republic in Iran, a somewhat surprising development was unfolding behind the scenes.

Gulf nations like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have historically been antagonistic toward the Jewish state, were in the process of feeding Israeli officials vital intelligence about Iran’s forthcoming attack. These actions proved critical in helping Israel thwart the massive assault, which included over 300 missiles and drones.

While this intel undoubtedly saved the lives of thousands of Israelis, a different revelation was finally confirmed in the wake of this weekend’s attack that may signal the end of Hamas’ stranglehold on the narrative. According to a source connected to the Saudi Royal family, the true aim of Hamas’ barbaric attack against innocent Israelis on October 7 was to curtail Saudi Arabia’s long-awaited normalisation with Israel.

The significance of the Saudi official’s admission is twofold. First, it confirms what many of us with personal ties to and a deep understanding of the conflict have long known: Hamas’s objective has never been to achieve a peaceful solution to this conflict, to resist oppression or to obtain equal rights for Palestinians.

Rather, its mission — parallel with its charter commitment to destroy and dissolve the state of Israel — was to force the Palestinian issue back onto the centre stage in an effort to convince people across the Arab world that they could not support normalisation with Israel, at least not while Palestinians are under attack. Further, Hamas’s efforts were backed by the Islamic Republic in Iran to the tune of over a quarter of a billion dollars.

Until this latest Saudi soundbite, Hamas appeared to have read the political room quite well. By provoking a response from Israel to the October 7 attack, Hamas had awakened international pro-Palestinian sentiment and fuelled global antisemitism, gaining newfound support for a cause that so many are ignorant of at best, or ambivalent to at worst.

Second, Saudi participation in the defence of Israel demonstrates that Arab nations are no longer willing to prioritise their concern for the Palestinian cause and allegiance to Iran over the safety of their own people. Even Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, which rules the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank, confirmed as much in a recent statement. Referring to the meddling by Iran, the statement read: “This external interference, particularly by Iran, has no other objective than to sow chaos in the Palestinian internal arena, which will only benefit the Israeli occupation and the enemies of our people.” The statement continued, “We will not allow our sacred cause and the blood of our people to be exploited for suspicious plots that have nothing to do with them.”

This was the moment when Hamas’s entire political strategy officially broke down. Once its ideology of mass murder began to actually threaten (and take) the lives of civilians throughout the Arab world, any support it had gained from Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE vanished.

For these Arab leaders, the stability and prosperity of their countries are simply too fragile and hard won to endanger in support of Hamas’s genocidal cause.

While this development is not likely to signal the end of Hamas as we know it, it does reveal the true cost of working as a proxy of the Islamic Republic. Hamas will also surely take a hit, albeit small, on the public relations front despite its advocates in the West who continue to shut down highways and disrupt public gatherings in their name.

It also cannot be understated how significant it is that Saudi Arabia acted to defend Israel without a normalisation agreement or any — at least publicly known — commitment on Israel’s part.

The US and UK should take heed as well. While Israel’s greatest allies often say the right things, it was several of Israel’s Muslim-majority neighbours that conveyed that they would stand with Israel against the dark regime in Iran.

I have long advocated for a solution to this conflict that allows all people to live side-by-side in peace. For far too long we have hung our hopes on America alone, but maybe with a little help from our cousins, we can create a new and better Middle East for us all.

April 16, 2024 16:44

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