Arabs Piling onto Israel’s Fake Peace—Palestinian Resistance Mounts, but to Little Effect
By: John Mason/ Arab America Contributing Writer
Recent agreements between Israel and Arab countries demonstrate that the Arab-Israel conflict and the Israel-Palestine conflict are species of a different kind. Arab countries’ détentes with Israel will only harden Israel’s position on Palestinians. Fatha and Hamas’ determination to participate in non-violent popular resistance is a small dose of medicine, given the scope.
Possibly Two More Arab States to “Normalize” Ties with Israel
Even as Israel celebrated fresh diplomatic relations with the United Arab Republic (UAE) and Bahrain in Washington this past Wednesday, the parting Israeli ambassador to the U.S. predicted that at least two more Arab states will follow suit. The Times of Israel reported that Ambassador Ron Dermer believes Israel will sign at least two more peace treaties over the next few months. The Ambassador characterized such so-called normalization as part of Netanyahu’s 20-year vision of ‘peace through strength.’ This vision, of course, ignores any sense that there is another vision of peace held by the very people whose land Israel has occupied for over five decades—the Palestinians. By the way, Dermer did not mention the names of Israel’s new, future Arab friends.
Just to show how easy it has been for Israel to make friends with Arab countries under the Trump administration, Dermer hinted that these agreements with Arab countries could have been concluded much earlier “if there was greater understanding and recognition among policy-makers and if they understood the opportunity.” Here, the Ambassador is taking an obvious jab at the Obama administration, whose policy was that Israel should not make agreements with Arab countries until it first made peace with Palestinians. For some reason, the Netanyahu regime believes that agreements with Israel could somehow spell “the beginning of the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict.” The name of the Palestinians is completely missing from this formula, of course.
Ambassador Dermer suggested, frankly, that diplomatic ties between Israel and such countries as the UAE and Bahrain may have nothing to do with a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but that such an agreement “definitely weakens those who reject any kind of compromise or any peace with Israel.” He also noted, on the annexation freeze called for by the UAE, that Washington would concede no action for Israel to vacuum up over one-third of the West Bank until 2024, on the presumption that the Trump regime would prevail until them. Israel basically relented on annexation in order to comply with U.S. wishes, or so the story goes. A lesson from the recent agreements between Israel and Arab countries (so far, Arab autocratic states) is that the Arab-Israel conflict and the Israel-Palestine conflict are species of a different kind.
Flipping the Coin: Two Arab Countries “Disloyal” to Palestinians
Disloyalty to or betrayal of the Palestinians is the flip side of the “normalization” coin. Arab countries linking officially to Israel are ignoring Palestinian rights while at the same time supporting Israel’s hegemony over the Palestinians. But, as if we need to be reminded, the obvious issue with this hypocrisy, as noted in a recent Globe and Mail opinion, is that, “While Israel acts democratically toward its Jewish citizens, its policy toward non-Jewish citizens and its decades-long occupation and colonization of Palestinian territories have been flagged by the United Nations as violations of international law.” Under such law, Israel should have withdrawn from occupied areas seized in 1967 and resolved the Palestinian refugee problem, now going on since the 1948 founding of the state of Israel. We know neither of these happened.
Both the UAE and Bahrain, in normalizing relations with Israel, decided to abrogate these long-standing United Nation’s resolutions.
Too Little, Too Late—Palestinians Unite Against “Normalization”
Under the pressure of the UAE and Bahrain normalizing relations with Israel, the Palestinian political factions joined arms with each other and began mending their fences. The divisions, based on West Bank’s Fatah and Gaza’s Hamas parties, decided to unify in the face of the new Arab-Israeli diplomatic relations, relations that, according to Al-Jazeera, undermine “long-standing Arab demands that Israel ends its decades-long occupation and agree on a two-state solution with the Palestinians.” Fatah and Gaza agreed on a ‘unified field leadership’ to commence a popular resistance against the occupation. If nothing else, then, the diplomacy enacted between Israel and the Arab countries has served to facilitate a reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.
Such a reconciliation is critical at this moment, according to Palestinian political analyst, Husam al-Dajani. Quoted in Al-Jazeera, al-Dajani noted, “The Palestinians’ unity efforts come at a very sensitive time, where the Palestinian cause is exposed to serious and strategic threats and challenges, starting with the American administration’s efforts to impose facts on the ground to legitimize the Israeli occupation, and the Israeli plans to annex the West Bank.” Al-Dajani further asserted that the two Palestinian movements must end their division to confront these most recent threats and challenges.
Rejecting the Israeli and American measures against the Palestinians is a major goal of the unified field leadership. More important as the preferred strategy, however, seems to be Fatha and Hamas’ determination to participate in non-violent popular resistance. Their expectation is to enact such resistance in the West Bank soon. The leadership did not detail the plan.
As Israeli-Arab diplomacy continues to grow, the Palestinian issue will only become more blurred. Non-violent popular resistance may raise that issue to a slightly higher level of concern, but unless some key Arab countries and, perhaps a new U.S. administration more favorable to the Palestinians come onto the scene, we shouldn’t get our hopes up too high.
“Israel’s envoy to US: At least 2 more Arab states will normalize ties by January,” Times of Israel, 9/20/2020”
“By signing a deal with Israel, two Arab countries have betrayed Palestinians,” Globe and Mail, 9/14/2020
“Palestinians unify as Arab states ‘normalise’ Israel relations,” Al-Jazeera, 9/15/2020
John Mason, PhD., who focuses on Arab culture, society, and history, is the author of LEFT-HANDED IN AN ISLAMIC WORLD: An Anthropologist’s Journey into the Middle East, New Academia Publishing, 2017. He has taught at the University of Libya, Benghazi, Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, and the American University in Cairo; John served with the United Nations in Tripoli, Libya, and consulted extensively on socioeconomic and political development for USAID and the World Bank in 65 countries.
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