Neighboring countries Egypt and Jordan play a crucial role of “go-between”. During the past conflicts with Gaza, neighboring countries Egypt and Jordan played a crucial role in obtaining a ceasefire. These are two Arab countries that maintain good diplomatic relations with Israel and the Palestinians.
Egypt standing beside Israel
Egypt is the only country, besides Israel, that has a border with Gaza. That puts Egypt in a unique position because it has direct access to Gaza and Hamas. The Egyptian services have maintained relations with Hamas for years, including over the border crossing at Rafah.
Egypt also made peace with Israel in 1978 in the Camp David Accords. Camp David is the name of the country residence of the American presidents and the place where the agreement was sealed.
Role of Egypt
Shortly after the outbreak of violence began, Egyptian delegations with security personnel were seen at the Rafah border post. Israel, the US and many Western countries do not have good relations with Hamas because they view the Palestinian movement as a terrorist organization.
Egyptian President al-Sissi, meanwhile, has said a “ceasefire” should be possible. The country announced that it is providing 500 million euros for the reconstruction of Gaza.
Role of Jordan
The role of neighboring country Jordan cannot be overstated either. Jordan made peace with Israel in 1994 through the mediation of US President Bill Clinton. The country is still home to more than two million refugee Palestinians.
Parts of the West Bank and Jerusalem were under Jordanian tutelage before being conquered by Israel. Today, a Jordanian foundation in Jerusalem still manages access to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. There is the important Al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock; the Wailing Wall, which is very important for Jews, leans against it.
Role of Middle East
The current King Abdullah is a very moderate voice in the Middle East and already spoke out last week for a “ceasefire”. Jordan also has good diplomatic relations with the US and with Europe, especially with Belgium.
Neighboring Lebanon (1983) also made peace with Israel, but the impoverished country itself is completely divided and plays no role as a mediator in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. The radical Shiite movement Hezbollah also weighs heavily on Lebanese (foreign) politics. A bright spot in the current crisis is that Hizbullah has so far – except rhetorically – kept aloof and has not yet started harassing Israel from the north.
Role of Qatar
Finally, there is the role of Qatar. The small, idiosyncratic Gulf state already supports Hamas financially and has even made agreements with Israel. Qatar can and will also exert pressure behind the scenes on Hamas to eventually accept a compromise, when the time is right.
Such diplomatic talks and agreements rarely come to the fore, but they form the humus for a possible agreement. Because that will only happen if everyone has more to gain from peace than if the conflict escalates even further.