World leaders convene for Gaza peace summit amid regional tensions

Egypt played host to a summit on Saturday aimed at addressing the Gaza crisis, with world leaders gathering to explore avenues for averting a broader regional conflict but Middle Eastern and European leaders at the event are expected to encounter challenges in reaching a unified stance on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Two diplomatic sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, expressed skepticism about the likelihood of a joint statement emerging from the summit. They cited sensitivities surrounding any calls for a ceasefire and debates about whether to address Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, as well as Israel’s right to defend itself.

The absence of a top official from Israel’s primary ally, the United States, and the non-participation of certain major Western leaders have tempered expectations regarding the potential outcomes of this hastily convened event.

Notably, the United States, which currently lacks a designated ambassador to Egypt, is being represented by its embassy’s charge d’affaires.

The summit occurs against the backdrop of Israel’s preparations for a ground offensive in Gaza in response to a devastating attack by Hamas that claimed the lives of 1,400 people. Israel’s counteroffensive has resulted in the deaths of over 4,100 Palestinians, while Gaza faces a deepening humanitarian crisis.

Amid these developments, several Arab countries have expressed their discontent over Israel’s unprecedented bombardment of and siege on Gaza, a region home to 2.3 million people.