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US proposes international peace force for Gaza, Arab nations want recognition of Palestinian state

Some Arab states reject participation over Israeli presence in Gaza

View of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, November 1, 2020 (Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The United States is discussing with several Arab nations the possibility of creating an international peacekeeping force to secure the Gaza Strip and prevent Hamas from re-establishing itself after the fighting ends. 

According to a report in Financial Times, Egypt, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates have said formal U.S. recognition for a Palestinian state would be a precondition to entering such an agreement. 

Several other Arab countries reportedly declined to participate, while also expressing their desire to see a two-state solution. One of those countries, Saudi Arabia, chose not to join the peacekeeping force out of a desire not to appear too supportive of Israel or to become too involved in potential guerrilla warfare with remaining Hamas elements, the Times wrote. 

The U.S. initiative aims to provide some governance in Gaza until a "credible Palestinian security apparatus" can be established, the report stated.

The U.S. has encountered challenges in convincing Arab states to participate in post-war governance and peacekeeping, mainly due to its own reluctance to contribute soldiers to such efforts.

The UAE previously stated its unwillingness to be a part of a post-war administration of Gaza after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu suggested the possibility.

“The UAE stresses that the Israeli prime minister does not have any legal capacity to take this step, and the UAE refuses to be drawn into any plan aimed at providing cover for the Israeli presence in the Gaza Strip,” Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan wrote on 𝕏. 

Middle East Eye (MEE) reported on Wednesday that Bahrain signaled its willingness to participate in a multinational force. Some analysts interpret this as a signal that Saudi Arabia is willing to take a larger role behind the scenes since Bahrain and the Saudi Kingdom enjoy close relations and cooperation on a variety of issues. 

An unnamed “senior Western official” told Middle East Eye that Bahrain’s willingness to join could be “the tip of the spear” in gaining momentum over the issue. 

"Bahrain is not the issue – Saudi Arabia and UAE are the clinchers," the official told MEE. 

Bahrain is hosting an Arab summit starting Thursday, and the situation in Gaza is expected to be one of the issues discussed. 

Egypt also expressed its concerns about Israel’s actions in Gaza, which has led to a breakdown in relations between the two countries. 

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry announced on Sunday that it would support the South African lawsuit against Israel in The Hague. 

Israel's KAN 11 News reported that Israel sent a security delegation to Egypt on Wednesday to discuss the recent escalation in tensions between the two countries after Israel seized control of the Rafah border crossing and called on Palestinians to evacuate portions of the Gaza town. 

The report noted that Israel and Egypt discussed the degraded relations since the beginning of the war in Gaza, solutions for the border crossing, and a pledge that Israel would not expand operations in Rafah without prior notification to Egypt. 

Netanyahu has refrained from speaking about Israel’s post-war plans for Gaza, which recently led to a dispute between him and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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