NEW YORK - Led by Egypt, a coalition of Arab states has effectively lined up with Israel in its fight against Hamas, posing new obstacles to efforts to end the Gaza conflict, according to a leading American newspaper. The coalition comprising Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan developed after the military ouster of the Islamist government in Cairo last year, The New York Times said in a dispatch. The group’s leaders have stayed silent despite more than three weeks of Palestinians’ massacre at the hands of Israeli troops.

‘The Arab states’ loathing and fear of political Islam is so strong that it outweighs their allergy to Benjamin Netanyahu,’ the prime minister of Israel, Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Wilson Centre in Washington and a former Middle East negotiator under several presidents, was quoted as saying. ‘I have never seen a situation like it, where you have so many Arab states acquiescing in the death and destruction in Gaza and the pummelling of Hamas. The silence is deafening.’ (While Hamas is a democratically-elected regime, KSA, UAE and Jordan are dictatorships.)

Although Egypt is traditionally the key go-between in any talks with Hamas, the government in Cairo this time surprised Hamas by publicly proposing a cease-fire agreement that met most of Israel’s demands and none of the Palestinian group, the Times pointed out. Hamas was tarred as intransigent when it immediately rejected it, and Cairo has continued to insist that its proposal remains the starting point for any further discussions.

But as commentators sympathetic to the Palestinians slammed the proposal as a ruse to embarrass Hamas, Egypt’s Arab allies praised it. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt the next day to commend it, Sissi’s office said, in a statement that cast no blame on Israel but referred only to ‘the bloodshed of innocent civilians who are paying the price for a military confrontation for which they are not responsible.’

‘There is clearly a convergence of interests of these various regimes with Israel,’ Khaled Elgindy, a former adviser to Palestinian negotiators who is now a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, was quoted as saying. In the battle with Hamas, Elgindy said, the Egyptian fight against the forces of political Islam and the Israeli struggle against Palestinian militants were nearly identical. ‘Whose proxy war is it?’ he asked.

The dynamic has inverted all expectations of the Arab Spring uprisings, the Times said. As recently as 18 months ago, most analysts in Israel, Washington and the Palestinian territories expected the popular uprisings to make the Arab governments more responsive to their citizens and therefore more sympathetic to the Palestinians and more hostile to Israel.

But instead of becoming more isolated, Israel’s government has emerged for the moment as an unexpected beneficiary of the ensuing tumult, now tacitly supported by the leaders of the resurgent conservative order as an ally against political Islam, the report said.

Egyptian officials have directly or implicitly blamed Hamas instead of Israel for Palestinian deaths in the fighting. And the pro-government Egyptian news media have continued to rail against Hamas as a tool of a regional Islamist plot to destabilize Egypt and the region, just as it has since the military ouster of President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood one year ago. (Egyptian prosecutors have charged Hamas with instigating violence in Egypt, killing its soldiers and police officers, and even breaking Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders out of jail during the 2011 uprising.)

At the same time, Egypt has infuriated Gazans by continuing its policy of shutting down tunnels for cross-border smuggling into the Gaza Strip and keeping border crossings closed, exacerbating a scarcity of food, water and medical supplies after three weeks of fighting, it was pointed out.

‘Sissi is worse than Netanyahu, and the Egyptians are conspiring against us more than the Jews,’ Salhan al-Hirish, a storekeeper in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya, was quoted as saying. ‘They finished the Brotherhood in Egypt, and now they are going after Hamas.’

With the resurgence of the anti-Islamist government in Cairo, the report said, new Egyptian government and allies like Saudi Arabia appear to believe that ‘the Palestinian people are to bear the suffering in order to defeat Hamas, because Hamas cannot be allowed to triumph and cannot be allowed to emerge as the most powerful Palestinian player.’

Egyptian officials disputed that characterization, arguing that the new government is maintaining its support for the Palestinian people despite its deteriorating relations with Hamas. ‘We have a historical responsibility toward the Palestinians and that is not related to our stance on any specific faction,’ a senior Egyptian diplomat was quoted as saying. ‘Hamas is not Gaza and Gaza is not Palestine.’