Arab States React to Hamas Attack as ‘Historic’ Israel–Saudi Deal Hangs in Balance

Arab States React to Hamas Attack as ‘Historic’ Israel–Saudi Deal Hangs in Balance
Israeli police officers evacuate a family from a site hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, southern Israel, on Oct. 7, 2023. (Tsafrir Abayov/AP Photo)

The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas launched an unexpected attack on Israel on Oct. 7, prompting swift retaliation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the start of an all-out war that has already claimed the lives of thousands.

Within the four days since the unprecedented Hamas attack—conducted by land, sea, and air on the same day Israelis were celebrating the Jewish holiday Simchat Torah—Israeli forces launched their most intense strikes ever in the 75-year history of its conflict with Palestine.

An estimated 1,200 Israelis have died since the violence erupted, according to local reports, while more than 900 people have lost their lives in Gaza since Israeli airstrikes began Saturday, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

The lives of more than 2 million people located in the Gaza Strip also hang in the balance after Israel declared a siege of the area, leaving residents without electricity, food, water, and fuel.

The strike also threatens to derail the “historic” peace deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia announced in September that would see the two nations formally recognize each other for the first time, and which appeared to be, up until recently, a not-so-distant possibility, despite opposition from Hamas.

Just days prior to the attack, U.S. and Israeli officials announced the “basic framework” of the deal—which would likely see a security, defense, and economic partnership between the two nations—had been established after years of back and forth.

Palestine has remained a sticking point throughout negotiations but the U.S.-brokered peace deal, according to a September speech by Mr. Netanyahu, would “truly create a new Middle East” and provide a real path towards “genuine peace” between Israelis and Palestinians.

“Such a peace will go a long way in ending the Arab-Israeli conflict and will encourage other Arab States to normalize their relations with Israel” as well as a “broader reconciliation between Judaism and Islam, between Jerusalem and Mecca,” Mr. Netanyahu said during a general debate of the UN General Assembly’s 78th session.

israel under attack
Police officers evacuate a woman and a child from a site hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, southern Israel, on Oct. 7, 2023. (Tsafrir Abayov/AP Photo)

US, Allies Condemn Hamas

President Biden’s administration, which has long been pushing for the normalization of diplomatic Saudi-Israel ties, was quick to condemn the attack by Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, over the weekend, and declared America’s support for Israel while vowing to ensure “Israel has what it needs to take care of its citizens, defend itself, and respond to this attack.”

Further condemnation of Hamas and promises to support Israel came from Europe and the United Kingdom.

Among Arab nations, Saudi Arabia was one of the first to respond.

On the day of the attacks, the Saudi Foreign Ministry issued a short statement, saying the Kingdom—one of the most powerful Arab states—was “closely following the developments of the unprecedented situation.”

The statement also called for an “immediate halt to the escalation between the two sides, the protection of civilians, and restraint” and recalled the Kingdom’s “repeated warnings of the dangers of the explosion of the situation as a result of the continued occupation, the deprivation of the Palestinian people of their legitimate rights, and the reception of systematic provocations against its sanctities.”

It concluded by calling for a “credible” peace process that leads to a two-state solution.

‘Too Early for Mediation’

In a more recent statement issued on Oct. 10 recapping a phone call between Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the ministry said the two sides “agreed on the necessity to intensify international and regional efforts to halt the escalation in Gaza and its surroundings and prevent its expansion in the region.”

However, the statement also concluded that “HHR the Crown Prince emphasized that the Kingdom stands by the Palestinian people to achieve their legitimate rights, realize their hopes and aspirations, and establish a just and lasting peace.”

Oil-rich Qatar, meanwhile, said it maintains its steadfast stance on the Palestinian issue, noting in a statement that “the only guarantee for achieving lasting peace is a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue within the framework of the Arab initiative, and ensuring the establishment of an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

Official spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Majed bin Mohammad Al Ansari, added that failing to reach a solution to the situation in Palestine “would perpetuate the absence of peace in the region” and urged the international community to “press for the development of this solution, ensuring that the Palestinian brothers obtain their rights definitively.”

However, Qatar stressed it was “too early to talk about direct mediation,” citing the “complexity of the situation on the ground.”

Elsewhere, the United Arab Emirates, which in 2020 normalized relations with Israel via the Abraham Accords agreement, issued a noticeably shorter statement regarding the attack expressing its “deep concern about the escalation of violence between Israelis and Palestinians,” and the need for an immediate ceasefire.

Bahrain, which also signed the Abraham Accords agreement, issued a similar statement, while Morocco, another nation that has normalized relations with Israel, expressed its “deep concern over the deterioration of the situation and the outbreak of military operations in the Gaza strip.”

NTD Photo
A missile explodes in Gaza City during an Israeli air strike on Oct. 8, 2023. (Mahmud Hams/AFP via Getty Images)

Iran Blames Israel for Escalation

Kuwait and Oman issued similar responses while Egypt, which became the first Arab nation to normalize relations with Israel under a 1980 peace treaty, warned of “grave consequences” from an escalation in tensions between Israel and the Palestinians in a statement.

In contrast, Iran, a key supporter of Hamas, denied direct involvement in the attack but praised “those who planned the attack on the Zionist regime.”

“The Zionist regime’s own actions are to blame for this disaster,” said Iran’s top authority Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The United States on Monday accused Iran of being complicit in Hamas’ assault on Israel, but acknowledged it had no intelligence or evidence supporting this assertion.

Elsewhere, Houthi rebels who control the capital Sanaa also said they supported “the heroic jihadist operation” while the Syrian foreign ministry called Hamas’s attack an “honorable achievement that proves the only way for Palestinians to obtain their legitimate rights is resistance in all its forms.”

It is still unclear whether Hamas carried out the attack to bring to a halt a potential deal between Israel and Saudi, which would ultimately suppress the issue of Palestine, reshape politics in the Middle East, and boost Israel’s standing.

The group has not yet commented on the precise reasoning behind the surprise attack but has, in the meantime, called on Arab and Islamic nations as well as the international community, to help provide relief to those in Gaza.

In a statement on Wednesday, the organization said Arab and Islamic nations must “assume their religious, national, and humanitarian responsibilities toward providing Gaza with equipment, fuel, medical supplies, food, and heavy equipment” so that injured individuals can be rescued.

The group also criticized Israeli forces for “wiping entire residential areas off the map and annihilating entire families” during the ongoing attacks, which have now entered a fifth consecutive day.

From The Epoch Times

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