Student at UPenn
My prediction is that Saudi Arabia will temporarily assume control over the Gaza Strip during its transition from Hamas leadership to becoming a sovereign nation. This action could be part of a peace deal brokered between Israel and Saudi Arabia. The longstanding barrier to Saudi-Israeli relations has been the issue of Palestinian statehood. Saudi Arabia aims to position itself as a dominant force in the Arab world, directly challenging Iran’s influence.
Given the stalemate in the Yemen proxy war against Iran, MBS (Mohammed bin Salman) has shifted focus towards soft-power tactics to isolate Iran and solidify leadership in the Arab world. During peace talks with Israel, the primary contention was the status of Palestinian statehood. Once the conflict between Hamas and Israel concludes, the future of Gaza Strip becomes pivotal.
Rebuilding Gaza’s infrastructure from one designed to support terrorism to one that sustains a population will require both strong leadership and financial resources. Saudi Arabia possesses both capabilities. Moreover, by assuming control, Saudi Arabia could expand its influence over the Palestinian people, who have been associated with Iran.
Israel would likely welcome Gaza no longer being under Hamas or other terrorist factions’ control. Additionally, this move could expand the reach of the Abraham Accords, especially as Israel faces diminishing support from countries like Bolivia and South Africa.
Saudi Arabia’s stance during the war, blocking an Iranian proposal to isolate Israel globally, and hinting at potential normalization post-war, underscores its potential role.
Therefore, it would not only solve the largest roadblock to normalizing ties with Israel, but also serve to expand Saudi’s influence over the Middle East.
Witnessing Saudi Arabia not only normalizing ties with Israel but also spearheading Gaza’s reconstruction could be a powerful step towards modernization and leadership in the Arab world.