October 15, 2023 | New York Post

Arab world has opportunity to take responsibility for Gaza’s future after Hamas attacks

October 15, 2023 | New York Post

Arab world has opportunity to take responsibility for Gaza’s future after Hamas attacks

Suddenly, the Arab world has a chance to show that its concern for the Palestinians is real.

When Israel is done crushing Hamas, there will be a political vacuum in Gaza.

Not surprisingly, Israeli leaders appear to have little interest in maintaining control of an enclave whose 2 million inhabitants Hamas has impoverished and oppressed.

By the same token, the last thing most Gazans would want is a return to Israeli administration. 

The answer to this dilemma is for the Arab world to take responsibility for Gaza’s future.

It is impossible for now, with Hamas still in control, to say precisely how such an arrangement would work.

But broad Arab responsibility should be the founding principle of the new order.

For 75 years, Arab leaders have spoken of their commitment to Palestinian statehood, often by way of vilifying Israel.

This is their chance to finally help build something that could resemble a functioning Palestinian state.

Would it be expensive, difficult, controversial and more likely to fail than to succeed?

Yes, absolutely. But it would be a lot less expensive than the wars Arab leaders once waged in the hope of destroying Israel.

It may also turn out to be less expensive than funneling vast sums to the autocratic, corrupt and reviled Palestinian Authority that was supposed build a state in the Palestinian territories under the terms of the Oslo Accords, signed 30 years ago.

Egypt is key

In post-Hamas Gaza, Egypt has no choice but to step up first. Geography dictates as much, given Egypt is the only country abutting Gaza other than Israel. Cairo also has a history in Gaza, which it occupied from 1948 to 1967 — it even prevented a Palestinian government from being formed after the first Arab-Israeli war.

But it’s played a positive role more recently. It has had diplomatic relations with Israel for more than 40 years, although the peace has been frigid. Under President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, Egypt has often played a constructive role in resolving periodic rounds of fighting between Israel and Hamas.

What Egypt cannot do is pick up the tab either for supporting refugees or rebuilding Gaza. Its fragile economy simply cannot afford it.

That is where the Gulf states come in. Qatar has already dedicated hundreds of millions of dollars to programs in Gaza, as agreed to with Israel, but also directed funds to the terror group’s military activities.

Given this record, if Doha’s concern for the Palestinians is serious, it should provide funding but let neutral officials ensure it is spent properly.

Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain could play a more direct role, both funding postwar Gaza and deploying officials to help administer the enclave alongside the Egyptians. 

The Emirates and Bahrain have already normalized relations with Israel as part of the 2020 Abraham Accords.

The Saudis are clearly looking for an opportunity to normalize relations but also for a way to show that peace with Israel does not amount to abandonment of the Palestinians.

What better way than to become a leading sponsor of the one Palestinian entity that may become capable of governing itself?

As for the people of Gaza, the new authorities should experiment gradually with self-governance. In the short term, elections will be pointless. Despite being subject to a formal ban, Hamas might still be able to control the process from the shadows. 


What Gazans need is a period of several years in which they have freedom of speech, religion and assembly, so they can begin to build their own civil society.

In the interim, there can be advisory councils, perhaps even elected ones, but the transitional authority will need to maintain power.

And however unpopular, Israel will need to put certain security measures in place to prevent a terrorist resurgence.

There are any number of ways all of this could go wrong. Americans don’t look to Egypt or the Gulf states as models of governance, yet if Gaza resembled Bahrain or the Emirates, that would be a dramatic improvement over where it’s been for the past two decades.

After 75 years of advocating Palestinian statehood, it is time for Arab leaders to seize this unexpected opportunity.

David Adesnik is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.


Arab Politics Egypt Gulf States Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Israel at War Jihadism Palestinian Politics