News Column

Arab States Tacitly Back Israel Over Hamas

July 31, 2014

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A coalition of Arab states has deliberately not taken sides in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the governing body of Gaza.

Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, among others, led by Egypt, have essentially lined up against Hamas, which has no legitimate allies in the Arab world except Iran, thus benefiting Israel.

"The Arab states' loathing and fear of political Islam is so strong that it outweighs their allergy to (Israeli Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu," said Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Wilson Center in Washington and former Middle East negotiator.

"I have never seen a situation like it, where you have so many Arab states acquiescing in the death and destruction in Gaza and the pummeling of Hamas. The silence is deafening."

Hamas rejected an Egyptian cease-fire proposal last week, offering nothing Hamas sought, which gave the world the impression Hamas was inflexible and uncompromising. Egypt's Arab allies regarded the proposal as praiseworthy, and comments from the allies on the conduct of the war condemn the deaths of civilians but tend not to blame Israel.

The immediate Arab world thus finds itself, surprisingly, allied with Israel in mutual opposition to Iran, which is funding and training Hamas soldiers. The conservative-led Arab states and Israel have militant Islam as a common enemy.

Some pro-government talk shows in Egypt have suggested "the Egyptian Army should help the Israeli Army get rid of Hamas," a Palestinian student, Maisam Abumorr, told the New York Times in an interview.

"There is clearly a convergence of interests of these various regimes with Israel," said Khaled Elgindy, a former adviser to Palestinian negotiators, noting the similarities between Egypt's fight and victory over the Muslim brotherhood and Israel's conflict with Hamas.

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Original headline: Arab states lining up with Israel against Hamas


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