By Dale Gavlak
Jordan has spearheaded Arab calls for a cease-fire in the Gaza war as casualties mount. An Israeli ground invasion to destroy Hamas, Arab analysts warn, could escalate into a wider regional conflict. Israel’s peace partners, Jordan and Egypt, decry any mass transfers of Palestinians to their countries.
As civilian deaths rise and the humanitarian situation deteriorates in Gaza, Israel has vowed to wipe out Hamas, designated by Israel, the United States and the European Union as a terrorist organization.
Former Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher told an online Carnegie Mideast panel this week that eliminating the militants may prove difficult, as Hamas “has become an ideology and not just a movement.”
Muasher warned: “If the Hamas military machine is destroyed, I am afraid many other Hamases will spring up.”
“Military solutions of this kind cannot solve this issue. Only a political process can. The problem with a political process, I just don’t see who is going to lead one.”
Muasher says that if Israel does not engage in a peace process leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state nor wants to govern the Palestinian majority inside the country, then he warns it may try to effect a mass transfer of Palestinians to Jordan and Egypt — which is unacceptable.
“The logical conclusion that Jordan and Egypt have is that if Israel does not want the first two options, then only the third option is to try get rid of as many Palestinians as possible. That is the real concern,” Muasher said.
Former Egyptian lawmaker Amr Hamzawy says while Egypt is working to allow aid in for the people in Gaza, it also is “very worried about any scenario of displacement.”
“The Egyptian government position is fully backed by popular sentiment. We will not let our national sovereignty or the borders be abused to solve an Israeli problem of not accepting a two-state solution, of not accepting an end to the occupation, and getting rid of the Palestinian issue,” Hamzawy said.
On Thursday, Arab foreign ministers from Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates condemned what they called the targeting of civilians and violations of international law in Gaza.
They said Israel’s right to self-defense does not justify breaking the law and neglecting Palestinians’ rights. They also expressed concern about a wider regional conflict developing.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told a press conference that Israel had “no interest in expanding the war.”