The next day, King Abdullah of Jordan, one of the United States’ closest Arab allies, canceled a meeting with President Joe Biden. Saudi Arabia, another important Arab partner of the United States, issued a blistering statement criticizing Israel for the hospital strike and casting a chill over the Biden administration’s efforts to strike a normalization deal between the Saudis and Israel that had seemed to be in the works before the latest round of warfare erupted.
On Friday, thousands of Egyptians joined pro-Palestinian rallies at the urging of a government-appointed group of lawmakers, academics, journalists and others who oversee talks between the government and the political opposition, a call that was distributed widely by Egypt’s government press center. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has been vocally supportive of the Palestinian cause in recent days.
To be sure, Arab leaders have their own reasons for riding the wave of anti-Israeli anger, and most of those reasons have little to do with Palestinian rights.
Much of Jordan’s population is ethnically Palestinian, which would have made it hard for the king to stand next to Mr. Biden after the hospital blast and the American president’s full-throated support for Israel, analysts said. And Egypt is alarmed by calls from some Israeli officials that Gazans be allowed to flee to Egypt, fearing they will never return to Gaza.
Still it remains unclear whether this outrage will last and lead to real political change.
On the popular level, there are, in fact, multiple Palestinian causes, with some calling for an independent Palestinian state next to Israel, others advocating one state shared by Israelis and Palestinians, and still others seeking Israel’s complete destruction.
On the political side, too, progress for Palestinians faces multiple barriers that can’t be cleared with protests and anger. These include deep enmity between the two main Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, and an Israeli government that has shown no interest for many years in restarting peace talks.
“Every avenue for resolving the conflict is being blocked, and this new military attack will create all kinds of atrocities,” said Daoud Kuttab, a Palestinian columnist for Al Monitor, an online publication.
Still, he has found encouragement in seeing the Palestinian cause back in the spotlight.
“I don’t know if it will turn into political action, but it keeps the issue alive and passes it along to the new generation,” he said. “People are saying, ‘Now it is your responsibility to carry on the issue.’”