Speeches and speeches from the leaders of Jordan, Turkey, Qatar and Egypt to lament the misery of civilians in Gaza, and the General Assembly of the United Nations just called for a cease-fire without any mention of the cause of this war and of Israel’s right to self-defense.
What is missing is that the immediate and longer term future of the Gaza civilians is precisely in their hands. Then why don’t they do anything other than blaming Israel?
Jordan: Its population has a large majority of Palestinians and in fact it was established, after WW1, to be the Palestinian State. The Ottoman Empire (precursor to Turkey) joined Germany in WW1 and when they lost the war, the then League of Nations carved up the Middle East. The United Kingdom received the mandate to govern “Palestine” and the famous Balfour Declaration defined the plan for the Jewish Homeland in Palestine with Trans-Jordan to be created for the Arab Palestinians. The British put the Hachemite family on the throne of Trans-Jordan even though the Hachemites did not really come from that part of the Middle East. Their origins are more in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
When the War of Independence of Israel ended in 1949, (then named) Jordan occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem with even more Palestinians controlled by the Hachemite Royal family. Jordan publicly supports the Palestinian cause but it is very concerned that one day its majority population takes control. The Royal Family is British educated and refined. Some twenty years ago I had a lunch in Palm Beach with a Sister of the current King and the Western sophistication of the family is obvious, as is their extensive wealth. In fact the Jordanian Royal family has little in common with its population. When in 2017 I visited Jordan I asked our guide what Jordanians really think of the Jordan-Israel peace agreement and he responded that 90 % is opposed to that peace agreement and he added… “Thank G’d that we have the King”.
King Abdullah needs the Palestinian problem to be Israel’s and to a large degree his survival depends on Israel, the US and to some degree on the UK. Right now he publicly criticizes Israel but what keeps him awake at night is a Hamas victory, followed by increased support for Hamas in the West Bank and in Jordan itself.
Turkey: Erdogan makes Mustafa Kemal Atatürk turn in his grave. The current leader in Turkey is an Islamist with sympathies for the Muslim Brotherhood, which makes him a friend of Hamas and a foe of Egypt and of other Arab countries. Turkey maintains a complex relationship with Israel as Erdogan wishes to be accepted by the West and sees benefits from a relationship with Israel, but his heart is with Hamas. He allows Hamas to have offices in Turkey.
Qatar: This oil & gas rich country allies itself with the US and also with Iran. There is a large US military presence in Qatar but Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani maintains a close relationship with Iran and a contentious relationship with its other neighbors; Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE. Al Jazeera is controlled by the Qataris and is pretty much its master’s voice. What Al Jazeera says is what the Sheik thinks. Qatar hosts the Hamas leadership in Doha in luxury and it also funds Hamas.
While Qatar officials maintain contacts with Israel, it is also a supporter of Israel’s enemies.
Egypt: President Sisi came to power after a coup against the Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi. He is far of a friend of Hamas and probably prays for Israel to destroy Hamas. But the last thing he wants is to inherit Gaza which Egypt controlled until 1967. The less he has to deal with Gaza, the better for him.
That brings me to why Jordan, Turkey, Qatar and Egypt hold the keys to what is best for Gaza civilians. Collectively, with support of other Arab and world countries, they should jump on board of French President Macron’s idea to create an international coalition against Hamas, as they did against Isis.
Turkey and Qatar should close the Hamas offices, expel the Hamas leaders and cut off all support. Jordan should publicly come out against Hamas, and Egypt should totally cut off any possible import into Gaza of anything that can be helpful to Hamas. Together they make it clear to Hamas that its presence in Gaza is finished. They also make the commitment to install the Palestinian Authority in Gaza (while keeping strict control of the PA’s corruption tendencies), fund the rebuilding of Gaza and help maintain security.
If they make that commitment, and not just with words, then they can ask Israel to refrain from an overall ground invasion into Gaza.
If these countries, and the world, REALLY (and I have my serious doubts) want what is best for Gaza civilians, then this plan makes absolute sense. Gaza civilians will be safe and have a future and Israel is safer. In fact if this plan succeeds, it would give impetus to find a better future for Palestinians in the West Bank.
Unfortunately, realistically, it is so much easier to blame Israel.