New Delhi, Dec 10 (IANS) The world may be feeling for Gaza in the wake of the war Israel announced against Hamas for attacking it on October 7, but the silence of the Arab nations over Israel’s relentless retaliation against Hamas is rather audible.Although the recent Arab-OIC summit did not justify the Gaza war and demanded that aid be allowed to enter the war-torn region, they called for cessation of arms exports to Israel.
According to sources, Israel has expressed its intent to carve out a buffer zone on the Palestinian side of the Gaza border to prevent future attacks. Regional sources also reveal that Israel shared its plans with Egypt and Jordan, other than the UAE.
It is further reported that Saudi Arabia, which halted a US-mediated normalisation process after the Gaza war broke out two months back, is in the loop. Even Turkey has been informed of Israel’s intent.
This clearly means that Israel is going beyond its usual Arab mediators in order to shape a post-war Gaza.
So far, no Arab state has displayed any inclination to administer Gaza in the times to come, but have condemned Israel’s offensive that has claimed more that 15,000 lives and razed a major part of Gaza to the ground.
A US-brokered deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia in the light of these developments, however, points to potential historic ground breaking as that would bring Saudi Arabia into America’s security fold.
It is believed that apprehensions regarding an Israeli-Saudi rapprochement might have been a factor behind Hamas’ October 7 attack.
This certainly puts Saudi Arabia in a tight spot given that Riyadh had earlier indicated that Israel must do something substantial about the Palestinian issue as a prerequisite for normalisation.
For Saudi Arabia to achieve its ambitious economic goals, a stable Middle East with cordial relations with the US is indispensable. This long-run agenda is a decisive factor for Saudi Arab to pave its path ahead in the ongoing conflict.
Further, there lies a possibility that Saudi Arabia might have a financial role to play in a UN-approved transitional administration that returns the control of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza. But such a role is expected to be more akin to cash dumps on select clients.
This, however, would not be favoured by Saudi Arabia as the Gulf nation now seeks investment opportunities over cash dumps, as it clarified in negotiations with Egypt recently.
After the 1973 Arab-Israeli War (also known as the Yom Kippur War), Saudi Arabia and other Arab oil-producing nations imposed an oil embargo on the United States to punish Washington for its support for Israel.
The embargo and accompanying cuts in oil production by the Gulf nations caused oil prices to quadruple in the US.
But as times have changed and the tables appear to have turned, the resumption of Israeli-Saudi discussions could also mean revamped and crucial Saudi-US ties. But so long as the conflict in Gaza persists, the Israeli-Saudi deal will remain on ice.
(Kavya Dubey may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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