Arab leaders are working to establish a possible post-war settlement, insisting on the long-held aim of realizing the establishment of a Palestinian state.

As Israel keeps up its campaign against Hamas, Arab leaders are mapping out ways to support post-war Gaza, placing one major condition on their involvement: a pathway to Palestinian statehood.

Major obstacles lie ahead in gaining the support of both US President Joe Biden and the Israeli government, which is currently led by hawkish Benjamin Netanyahu, a staunch opponent of the two-state solution.

But the Arab quintet of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Egypt have made clear that their financial and political support, which would be crucial to the future of the shattered Gaza Strip, comes at a cost.

“We have coordinated on this closely with the Palestinians. It needs to be truly a pathway to a Palestinian state,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told a World Economic Forum last month.

It is not the first time Arab leaders have come together to chart a path towards a two-state solution, the cherished goal that they believe could defuse Middle East tensions and help usher in a period of prosperity.

But with the Israel-Hamas war hobbling regional economies and spilling over into neighboring countries, there is both urgency and opportunity.

‘Process of reform’

Arab countries are “pressuring the United States to achieve two things: establish a Palestinian state and have it recognized in the United Nations,” said an Arab diplomat who is familiar with the talks.

“What is currently hindering these intensive efforts is the continuation of the war and Netanyahu’s intransigent rejection,” said the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Central to their plan is the reform of the Palestinian Authority to clear the way for a reunified administration in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The PA has had almost no influence over Gaza since Hamas militants wrestled control of the territory from the Fatah movement of president Mahmud Abbas in 2007.

In March, the Palestinian president approved a government led by newly appointed prime minister Mohammed Mustafa, who wants it to play a role in post-war Gaza.

‘We have a plan’

However, the biggest roadblock, according to Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a prominent Emirati analyst, is the Israeli government.

Earlier this month, the UAE’s foreign minister met Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid in Abu Dhabi. They discussed the need for negotiations on a two-state solution, according to a statement from the UAE foreign ministry.

“There are promises that if the Israeli opposition prevails in (early) elections it may be more amenable and more cooperative,” Abdulla said.

Arab leaders have largely ruled out taking part in the governance of Gaza or sending security forces under current conditions.

On Saturday, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan said the country “refuses to be drawn into any plan aimed at providing cover for the Israeli presence in the Gaza Strip.”

Oil-rich Gulf states Saudi Arabia and the UAE are also hesitant to cover the reconstruction costs without guarantees.

The UAE’s ambassador to the United Nations, Lana Nusseibeh, said in February: “We cannot keep refunding and then seeing everything that we have built destroyed.”

Hashem Osseiran, with AFP