The agreement between Israel and the United States to crack down on arms smuggling into Gaza is likely to further polarize opinion in the Arab world. At a meeting in Qatar, the host nation and Mauritania decided to suspend ties with Israel, after Hamas called for Arab unity over Israel’s assault on Gaza. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal also rejected Israeli conditions for a ceasefire, and said the group would fight on until the Jewish state’s attack comes to an end. However, he did say that Hamas would return to Cairo to pursue Egyptian proposals to stop the conflict.
The bombardment of Gaza has sparked demands for Arab leaders to take a stronger stand against Israel. Egypt has been criticised for co-operating with Israel’s blockade. But the issue has also highlighted Arab disunity, with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and their allies on one side, and Syria, Qatar and others more sympathetic to Hamas on the other.