The uprisings that displaced pro-Western autocrats who toed the US line on Israel have brought to power Islamist governments more friendly to Hamas, as well as more sensitive to public opinion typically supportive of the Palestinian cause. This has reshaped the regional dynamics, leaving Israel increasingly isolated. These new governments, along with Turkey and Qatar, have formed a vocal block of opposition to Israel's assault on Gaza.
“This is a significant change in the Arab reaction,” says Khalil Al Anani, a scholar at Durham University in Britain. The new Arab nations ready to take a stronger stance against Israel could change Israel’s calculations in favor of more restraint.
“It shows that Gaza is not alone. This will put pressure on Israel, and they [Arab states] can move further if they want, by lobbying internationally and putting a spotlight on Israel and its lack of interest in peace," he says.
Reclaiming its role at the top
The crisis has also given Egypt, which is leading negotiations for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, a chance to reclaim its former leadership role in the region. An Israeli envoy arrived in Cairo yesterday for the discussions, and a senior Egyptian official said today there were "encouraging signs" that an agreement could be reached soon. Egypt also hosted the Turkish prime minister, the Qatari emir, and head of Hamas Khaled Meshaal Saturday for discussions on the crisis in Gaza.