The Impact of Recent Hamas Attacks on Middle East Dynamics

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October 19, 2023

The Impact of Recent Hamas Attacks on Middle East Dynamics

Israel-Hamas War highlights: 'Working to ensure humanitarian aid reach Gaza,' Biden to Palestinian authority President | Mint


The recent series of lethal attacks launched by Hamas on Israel on October 7 has led to significant repercussions in the Middle East. This article delves into the ramifications, particularly focusing on Israeli-Saudi relations and the broader geopolitical landscape of the region. These attacks have upended Israeli efforts, supported by the United States, to foster normalization of relations with Arab states, while simultaneously overlooking Palestinian concerns.

Israeli Diplomacy:

Normalization Agreements:

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel pursued a strategy of normalizing relations with historically hostile or distant Arab countries. Noteworthy agreements with Egypt and Jordan in the late 20th century were pivotal in this pursuit.

The Abrahamic Accords:

A milestone in Israeli diplomacy was reached with the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020. These agreements, facilitated by the United States, resulted in the normalization of relations between Israel and several Arab nations, including the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and subsequently Morocco. This marked a transformative shift in regional dynamics, signifying an increasing acceptance of Israel in the Arab world.

Strategic Goals:

Israel’s diplomatic endeavors were aimed at bolstering its security, amplifying its regional influence, and expanding economic and technological cooperation with Arab states. Additionally, these agreements were instrumental in isolating Iran, viewed as a common regional adversary.

The Role of the United States:

Mediator and Facilitator:

Historically, the United States has played a pivotal role as a mediator in Israeli-Arab conflicts, leveraging its diplomatic influence to convene peace talks and negotiations.

Broker of the Abraham Accords:

In the case of the Abraham Accords, the United States, under the Trump administration, took an active role in brokering these historic agreements. The U.S. actively encouraged Arab nations to establish diplomatic ties with Israel, providing political support and incentives to facilitate these accords.

Strategic Interests:

The U.S. held strategic interests in promoting Israeli-Arab normalization, including strengthening regional alliances, countering Iranian influence, and fostering stability in the Middle East. This commitment was exemplified through substantial military aid and security assistance provided to Israel.

The Gaza War and Its Ramifications:

Reemphasis on the Palestinian Issue:

The Gaza War has brought the Palestinian issue back to the forefront of regional politics, drawing attention to the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the unresolved grievances of the Palestinian population.

Regional Instability:

The conflict in Gaza has contributed to regional instability, escalating tensions and potentially spilling over into neighboring countries, exacerbating existing conflicts.

Impact on Israeli-Saudi Normalization Efforts:

The Gaza War has significantly affected Israel’s endeavors to normalize relations with Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia. It has disrupted the momentum of normalization, as Saudi Arabia, like other Arab nations, has faced domestic pressure to condemn Israeli actions in Gaza.

Saudi Arabia’s Shift:

Saudi Arabia’s response to the Gaza War signals a notable shift in its stance. While previously open to normalizing relations with Israel, the kingdom has now emphasized the importance of addressing Palestinian interests and rights. This shift may have enduring implications for Saudi foreign policy and its relations with both Israel and the United States.

Iran’s Role:

Speculation abounds regarding Iran’s role in instigating Hamas attacks to thwart Saudi-Israeli normalization efforts. However, it is crucial to note that Saudi-Iran relations had already experienced a degree of normalization prior to the Gaza War, reducing the likelihood of direct Iranian involvement as a primary motivator.

Humanitarian Crisis:

The conflict has precipitated a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, resulting in casualties, displacement, and significant infrastructure damage. The international community has been called upon to address the urgent humanitarian needs of the Palestinian population.

Impact on Regional Alliances:

The Gaza War has influenced the alignment of regional alliances, with countries taking positions based on historical relationships and geopolitical interests. This has the potential to reshape alliances and cooperation in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia’s Evolving Foreign Policy:

Pursuit of Strategic Autonomy:

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has demonstrated a growing inclination toward pursuing an independent foreign policy, seeking to assert its strategic autonomy and reduce reliance on traditional allies, including the United States.

Refusal to Align with Anti-China or Anti-Iran Coalitions:

Saudi Arabia has rejected U.S. attempts to forge global anti-China coalitions and regional anti-Iran alliances. Despite U.S. pressure, the kingdom has maintained its own strategic interests and relationships.

Stronger Ties with China:

Saudi Arabia has deepened its relations with China, particularly in trade, investment, and energy cooperation. The kingdom acknowledges China’s increasing global influence and views it as a vital economic partner.

Multifaceted Engagement Across Asia:

Saudi Arabia has actively pursued diverse relationships across Asia, including with countries like India and Pakistan. These engagements encompass economic, diplomatic, and security cooperation, reflecting the kingdom’s aim to broaden its influence in the Asian region.

Way Forward: Concrete Actions for Palestinian Interests

Commitment to a Two-State Solution:

Both Israel and the Palestinian leadership should unequivocally reaffirm their commitment to a two-state solution, recognizing the imperative of an independent and viable Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Freeze Settlement Expansion:

Israel should cease all settlement construction activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Settlement expansion remains a significant impediment to peace and poses a threat to the territorial integrity of a future Palestinian state.

Cessation of Violence:

All involved parties must commit to terminating violence and terrorism. This encompasses a complete halt to rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel and measures to prevent violence on both sides. A comprehensive ceasefire agreement should be pursued.

Support for Palestinian Elections:

The international community should back transparent and inclusive Palestinian elections to bolster the legitimacy of the Palestinian leadership. These elections should adhere to international standards.

Address Core Issues:

Negotiations should tackle fundamental issues such as the status of Jerusalem, the right of return for Palestinian refugees, and the delineation of borders for a future Palestinian state. These matters must be resolved through peaceful negotiations grounded in international principles.

International Mediation and Oversight:

International actors, including the Quartet, should actively mediate and oversee the peace process to ensure accountability, adherence to agreements, and a fair and balanced negotiation environment.


The Gaza conflict has had a profound impact on the geopolitics of the region, particularly by reemphasizing the importance of addressing Palestinian concerns. While Israel’s efforts to normalize relations with Arab states face challenges, Saudi Arabia’s renewed focus on the Palestinian cause marks a significant shift in its foreign policy approach, underscoring the evolving dynamics in the Middle East

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The Impact of Recent Hamas Attacks on Middle East Dynamics | Vaid ICS Institute