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OpinionIsrael at War

Why the Arabs ‘betrayed’ the Palestinians

Countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan are as opposed to Hamas as they are to Israel.

Israeli troops operating in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Nov. 22, 2023. Credit: IDF.
Israeli troops operating in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Nov. 22, 2023. Credit: IDF.
(Twitter)
Khaled Abu Toameh
Khaled Abu Toameh is an award winning Arab and Palestinian Affairs journalist with the Jerusalem Post. He is Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and a Fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

The Iran-backed Hamas terrorist group and its supporters are disappointed that the Arab countries did not come to the rescue of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during the war which erupted after the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre. At least 1,200 Israelis were murdered and more than 4,500 wounded in the attack. Another 240 Israelis, including toddlers, children, women and the elderly, were kidnapped to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

This is not the first time that the Palestinians have voiced disappointment with their Arab brothers. In all previous rounds of fighting between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinians have claimed that the Arab and Islamic states were not doing enough to help them. In fact, Palestinians have over the past few decades accused the Arabs of “betraying” them by signing normalization agreements with Israel and refusing to provide them with financial aid. The Palestinians receive lip service from the Arabs and Muslims, but that is all.

True, some Arab countries did dispatch humanitarian and medical aid to the Gaza Strip during the current Israel-Hamas war. The Arab and Islamic countries also held a summit in Saudi Arabia during which they expressed solidarity with the Palestinians and strongly condemned Israel. Yet, for Hamas and many Palestinians, this support was insufficient and showed that their Arab and Muslim brothers had once again turned their backs on them.

While anti-Israel protesters have taken to the streets of American, Canadian and European cities to voice support for Hamas and the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, most of the Arab and Islamic heads of state and governments have limited their reactions to statements of condemnation against Israel’s war, which has two objectives: to eliminate Hamas and to free the Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip. The stance of the Arabs and Muslims is yet another indication of their disillusionment with the Palestinians in general and Iran’s proxies— Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis—in particular.

Countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan are as opposed to Hamas as they are to Israel. Hamas is another branch of the Muslim Brotherhood organization, which has long posed a threat to their national security.

In 2017, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar after accusing it of providing support for Islamist terrorists, including Hamas and the Taliban, as well as Iran. Saudi Arabia said the decision to cut diplomatic ties was due to Qatar’s “embrace of various terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at destabilizing the region,” including the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State (ISIS) and militants supported by Iran in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said, “All attempts to stop it [Qatar] from supporting terrorist groups failed.”

In 2021, a Saudi court sentenced 69 Hamas members to prison terms ranging from three to 21 years. The Hamas members were accused of affiliation with a terrorist organization.

In 2014, an Egyptian court banned all activities of Hamas in Egypt. Reuters reported at the time:

“‘Egyptian authorities see Hamas as a major security threat, accusing it of supporting al-Qaeda-inspired fighters in the Sinai Peninsula.’ The court also ordered the closure of all Hamas offices in Egypt.”

In 2012, Hamas leaders were forced to leave Syria after they were accused of failing to support the Syrian regime against its opponents during the civil war. Syrian state TV launched a scathing attack on Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, who had moved to Syria after being expelled from Jordan. “Remember when you were a refugee aboard planes. Damascus gave you mercy,” the station said. “No one wanted to shake your hand, as if you had rabies.”

In 1999, Jordanian authorities expelled Mashaal and other Hamas leaders and shut their offices in the kingdom. The move came after the authorities accused the Hamas leadership of meddling in Jordan’s sensitive relations with its Palestinian population.

Dr. Fayez Abu Shammala, a Hamas-affiliated Palestinian academic from the Gaza Strip, wrote on Nov. 22:

“We used to sing: The Arab countries are my homelands. After they failed the Gaza Strip, we began to sing: The Arab countries have failed us.”

Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups have criticized the Arabs and Muslims for refusing to be more hostile towards Israel since the beginning of the war in the Gaza Strip. “The Arab and Islamic position is weak, and the diplomatic efforts [of the Arabs and Muslims] are hesitant in the face of America and the West,” Palestinian Islamic Jihad said in an Oct. 23 statement.

In interviews with the Arab media outlet Arabi 21, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip further complained about the failure of the Arabs and Muslims to come to their rescue. Umm Mohammed, a 64-year-old woman from the city of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, condemned the position of Arab rulers, presidents and kings “who failed to protect the Palestinian people.” She added: “They [Arab and Muslim leaders] watch our children die and do nothing.”

Nael, a Palestinian father from Gaza City, also denounced the “weakness and betrayal by the Arab rulers with regard to supporting the Palestinian cause and defending the people of Gaza. We did not expect the Arab rulers to let us down. We cannot rely on the Arab rulers, but our hope is in God first, and then in the free Arab peoples, that they will move and stand with us.”

The Shura Council of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan expressed “deep dissatisfaction with the official Arab position and its extreme weakness in taking serious steps to curb the mad, rampaging [Israeli] machine of death and to support our people in the Gaza Strip.”

Yemeni political analyst Mutee al-Mekhlafi remarked:

“It is a shame that the U.S. moves aircraft carriers to the Middle East to support [Israel], and that Western countries and allies of the Zionist entity support the continuing attacks and crimes of the Zionist occupation forces against the Palestinian people, at a time when the Arab and Islamic governments have abandoned their religious, national and moral duty to support and aid the oppressed Palestinian people… History will immortalize all the hypocritical and cowardly Arab and Islamic leaders’ positions in ink of disgrace, humiliation and subservience.”

Once again, Hamas and its supporters have seen that their Arab and Muslim brothers are disgusted with them. Once again, Palestinians have seen that Iran and its proxies are the enemies of not only Israel, but of a growing number of Arabs and Muslims. Undoubtedly, Hamas and other Palestinians were hoping that Arab and Islamic armies would march on Israel and destroy it after the Oct. 7 carnage.

Now that their eyes have been once again forced open, the Palestinians should distance themselves from Hamas and other terrorist groups and join forces with those Arabs and Muslims who recognize that to create a better future for their people, it would benefit them immeasurably to recognize the legitimacy of the State of Israel.

Originally published by The Gatestone Institute.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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