The recent escalation in Gaza has increased regional tensions, and the responses from the Arab nations continue to reflect their support for the Palestinian cause. This is represented in various statements and reactions, along with the Arab street witnessing numerous demonstrations and rallies. The Palestinian issue remains complex and deeply ingrained in regional politics, with evolving political considerations, domestic dynamics and regional security concerns intersecting.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) released a statement that condemned Israel’s strikes in Gaza, affirming that the “brutal aggression against the Palestinian people a blatant international and humanitarian law violation and a war crime.” The Ministerial Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) pledged $100 million for an urgent humanitarian relief mission to Gaza. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt and Morocco jointly denounced the deliberate targeting of civilians and the “blatant breaches of international law” in Gaza, where Israeli airstrikes have been intense since the start of the recent conflict. The emir of Qatar called on the international community to restrain Israel and stressed that Israeli forces should not have an unconditional green light to attack Gaza. He condemned the ongoing violence and expressed concern over the situation. Meanwhile, Kuwait rejected the Israeli order for Palestinians to evacuate their homes in Gaza and called the Israeli actions a violation of international law. Kuwait urged the international community and the UN Security Council to act swiftly to halt the dangerous escalation, and demanded the cessation of attacks on civilians, the end of the blockade and the delivery of humanitarian aid to Palestinians. Oman also strongly condemned Israeli actions in Gaza, calling them violations of international law and crimes against humanity, and urged urgent international intervention and humanitarian aid. During a recent meeting, Jordan’s King Abdullah II warned US Secretary of State Antony Blinken against Israeli attempts to displace Palestinians from the Palestinian territories, reflecting Jordan’s concerns about the escalation and a potential refugee crisis. Blinken also met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who warned against forced displacement from Gaza and highlighted the humanitarian crisis.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia both condemned Israeli ground operations in the Gaza Strip, expressing deep concern over the Israeli military escalation and its impact on the humanitarian crisis. Recently, during a meeting with US senators, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman cautioned the United States and Israel against a ground invasion of Gaza, emphasizing the need to protect Palestinian civilians. Saudi Arabia’s reaction to the escalation reflects Riyadh’s unwavering commitment to addressing the enduring Palestinian issues, aligning with the Arab Peace Initiative, a stance consistently supported by the crown prince, even in light of recent attacks. Saudi Arabia along with Egypt and Jordan, is also concerned that a ground invasion would impact regional stability and pose a significant challenge to the security of the Gulf. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and the crown prince discussed the recent developments in their first phone call since restoring ties, emphasizing the need to end war crimes against Palestine and expressing concern for the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
Iran expressed concern over Israeli attacks on civilians and discussed cooperation with Hamas in addressing the Gaza crisis, meanwhile issuing warnings of retaliation from the “axis of resistance.” In the face of escalating tensions, the United States remains cautious after attacks against US forces in Iraq and Syria. Meanwhile, Tehran is concerned about the potential setbacks for Hamas which Hezbollah also warned about in recent days amid intense Israeli attacks. The Syrian Foreign Ministry condemned Israel for targeting Gaza and Syrian territories, expressing concern over attacks on Aleppo International Airport, and urged Israel to stop using self-defense as a pretext for its continued aggression on Palestinians while holding Israel and the West responsible for regional instability.
Historically, the Palestinian issue has remained at the heart of regional politics, characterized by its political significance, humanitarian urgency and severe security implications. The Palestinian issue has also been leveraged as a powerful instrument for political maneuvering, frequently employed to engage in negotiations and exert pressure on the West by Iran and its regional allies. Simultaneously, Israeli aggression has consistently been met with condemnation and resistance, and the Arab world, as a collective, is attempting to prevent the conflict from expanding in the region. Israel’s recent responses and intense airstrikes stand as a major concern, and the sentiments on the Arab street reflect widespread frustration and anger. Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt face more immediate and pressing domestic challenges, and their responses during times of regional anger against Israel are highly significant.
Despite the varying opinions and divergences in the Arab world, a steadfast commitment to the Palestinian cause remains an enduring sentiment. Rooted in historical and cultural ties, this sentiment holds a central position in regional politics, significantly influencing how regional countries respond to this longstanding conflict.