Israel escalates military operations in Gaza after ongoing truce between Hamas and Israel (Getty Images)

It is too early to capture the impact of the war on Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank on the strategic directions that our region will take, as this remains dependent on the duration of the war, as the longer it lasts, the harder it becomes to imagine what will come next, how it will end, and the paths that will follow on the ground and in politics.

Despite this fact, we can risk raising questions more than providing answers, pointing out new phenomena and dynamics that could crystallize or fade, and discussing the direction in which the region was intended to go.

First: Restoring the Palestinian cause as one of the priorities of the regional and international agenda

It has proven to be one of the determinants of stability in the region, and without solutions to it, the region will continue to be threatened to international peace and security.

Washington, for example, can no longer neglect the Palestinian issue, will have to make the resolution of this conflict the centerpiece of its endeavors, and it will be impossible for it to address other issues in the region unless there is a credible path to a viable future Palestinian state.

The Gaza war confirmed that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the most divisive issue in the EU's foreign policy and security.

The calm on which reconciliation and calm that affected some files, such as the Iranian-Saudi agreement, the truce in Yemen, and the Gulf reconciliations with Turkey, proved to be fragile and easily explosive.

Despite this, all parties do not want a regional war, and fear that this war will expand, so they have all sought to contain the escalation. Iran's influence in the region has been confirmed by its proxies, driving the continued fragile détente between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The problem with the region's leaders is that they know what they want, but so far they have been unable for each side to crystallize what they want, let alone agree on post-war security arrangements.

The war on Gaza has divided Western public opinion, prompting one Carnegie scholar to explain its impact on the EU: "As sentiment mounts and divisions deepen, it's hard to see what role the EU can play."

The narrative of the new Middle East, which focuses on economics rather than ideology, has been promoted for several years. This was a key opportunity for China to intensify its geoeconomic investments in the Middle East, leveraging its economic power to enhance its geopolitical influence.

Regional leaders worry that a protracted war in Gaza could derail such plans. The Abraham Accords included bribing Washington authoritarian regimes to recognize Israel through promises of U.S. weapons and security guarantees.

But the "arms and security for peace" initiative has been a failure; it has further militarized the region, not increased stability, as the war in Gaza has shown. It has also been proven that Israel, with its policies towards the Palestinians and its brutality, can bring the region to flame.

There is a greater recognition of the need to integrate Palestinians who were excluded into the economic arrangements the region is intended to pursue. But the question is, does this inclusion extend to other excluded people, such as Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, and Iran, in addition to the marginalized, such as Egypt and Jordan? A question about the future, but without reaching a consensus on it, the region will continue to suffer from instability.

Features of restoring the Palestinian cause

The restoration of the Palestinian cause in this context has a number of features, most notably:

  • It was done by the Palestinians alone, and what others are doing is the role of support and support, if any. While the Palestinian cause has been profoundly proven to mobilize segments of the wider public in the region and the world, there are limits to the impact of this mobilization on policy change.

The war on Gaza has divided Western public opinion, prompting one Carnegie scholar to explain its impact on the EU: "As sentiment mounts and divisions deepen, it's hard to see what role the EU can play."

There is no longer a father for the Palestinian people in the past thirty years. The regimes in Iran, Iraq, and Syria competed for the title of hero of the Palestinian people, but with this crisis everyone played for their own national interest.

Iran has quietly separated its interests from those of the Palestinians, and Turkey has maintained its trade ties with Israel, only stepping up rhetorically.

The official Arab regime wants to end the war so that it does not reach its fire. As The Economist put it, "Everyone wants the war to end, and they all want someone else to end it."

That was the message, both cliché and controversial, from the leaders of the 22-member Arab League and the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation. That was all the extraordinary summit held on November 11 in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, showed, more than a month after the Gaza war.

  • Compared to any other cause, Palestine continues to inflame public sentiment in the region and is able to unite segments of the Arab and Muslim population. What is new is the emergence of global popular support.
  • This restoration suffers from weak politics and a fragile supportive context. The Palestinians are divided, suffering from the absence of a legitimate entity that can represent them, after the cessation of elections all these years. The Arab Spring, with its successive uprisings and waves, exhausted the country and the people. The Palestinian narrative has become strongly present internationally alongside its Israeli counterparts, especially among young people, the left, feminist movements, indigenous people, as well as blacks in the United States. The main incubator for this restoration is the Palestinians themselves, but Israeli brutality in Gaza and the West Bank would impose limits on the ability of this incubator in the short and medium term, if there is no continuous support for them to strengthen them. Israel's strategy has been to deter with brutality and raise the cost of any act of resistance, and this is what is now unfolding in Gaza after the current truce.

Second: The Escalation of the Problem of Representation in Arab Countries and Their Lack of Political Subjectivity

Its actions fail to meet the demands of the population on the material but also symbolic level of dignity.

The Israeli-Palestinian war has reawakened the Arab street for the third time in a decade. By carrying the flag of Palestine, the disaffected will challenge corrupt and unaccountable rulers, the domino effect will only stop further repression, and dictators in the region will continue to be financed for fear of sliding into instability.

The war on the Palestinians may deepen the crisis of some regimes; it may explode their economic and political crises and their lax stance in Palestine. The consequences of the war on Egypt and Jordan could also drive instability amid a severe economic crisis.

Egypt now has two active wars on its borders (in Gaza and Sudan), and one frozen, but unresolved (in Libya). It must also repay $29 billion of external debt in 2024 (the World Bank brings the figure above $85 billion, if it includes the debts of economic bodies), an amount equivalent to <>% of its foreign reserves.

Jordan, on the other hand, has mixed its economic crisis with anti-Israeli sentiment; this exacerbates the crisis of legitimacy. These regimes will focus on survival, and they will try to turn the Gaza war into an opportunity, but can they?

The demand for acting may rise again. But with grievances mounting and dissenting avenues largely constrained by them, the concern is that Hamas may offer an alternative model, not only in the sense that jihadism will rise again, but also in the sense that a significant portion of the region's influential interactions are carried out by non-state actors.

Despite the power of the region's states, a large share of power remains outside the state-based system. Part of the power is in the hands of those excluded from it.

Egypt is scheduled to hold elections in December, followed in 2024 by Algeria, Iran, Mauritania and Tunisia. Unfortunately, with the exception of Mauritania, the elections will be farce, as the results are determined in advance.

Autocrats will score huge victories and expand their rule, while democracies in the region in one form or another in Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Morocco continue to flounder.

Arab rulers will still say, "We provide stability," but it has been proven with the "Al-Aqsa Flood" that it needs more investment in order to materialize. Will everyone invest enough in it to achieve it, or will the region remain plundered by instability?