In a precarious political situation which needs to be taken seriously, the Palestinian people’s only defense is to not take any purported pro-Palestine rhetoric seriously. In 2002, the Arab Peace Initiative, spearheaded by Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, was the roadmap upon which Arab states would normalize relations with Israel, conditional upon the implementation of “an independent Palestinian state.” In other words, Arab countries would normalize relations with Israel when the two-state compromise is realized.
Fast forward to 2020 and the two main alterations which seal the thwarting of an independent Palestinian state – the US “Deal of the Century” and the UAE-Israeli normalization agreement – have exposed the Arab leaders’ professed support for Palestine as a sham.
Instead of turning inwards and opening up political avenues for discussion with the Palestinian people, the Palestinian Authority (PA) reacted to the normalization agreement by asking the Arab League to abide by the 2002 Peace Initiative. The draft resolution was blocked, and the Arab League determined it was up to individual Arab countries to choose how to pursue relations with Israel, while claiming it still upheld the two-state compromise and international law.
Further expounding upon the irrelevance of Palestine, the Arab League is scheduled to hold a meeting on Wednesday to discuss “the Palestinian cause after the Israel-UAE deal.” Far from admitting to a betrayal, the Arab League has exposed its exploitation and abandonment of Palestine. Following the UAE, Bahrain was the next country to normalize relations with Israel, after being at the helm rejecting the PA’s request for an Arab League meeting denouncing normalization.
As the UAE basks in the limelight of the entire international community at the expense of the Palestinian people, Abbas has proved incapable of giving thought to any strategy.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh declared the Arab League “a symbol of Arab inaction.” Yet, for all the Palestinian factions’ urging PA leader Mahmoud Abbas to reconsider relations with the Arab League, the PA is still communicating meaningless symbolic rhetoric, such as condemning “insulting the national symbols of any of the Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates.”
As the UAE basks in the limelight of the entire international community at the expense of the Palestinian people, Abbas has proved incapable of giving thought to any strategy, falling yet again on pitiful statements that scream an internal betrayal of Palestine in the face of regional and international abandonment.
Such comments also come in the wake of news that the PA was asked to accept economic incentives in return for accepting Arab countries’ normalization with Israel, to which the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee member Ahmed Majdalani said that the PA is “not in a position to compromise or search for half-way resolutions.”
In terms of politically opposing the Arab League’s normalization of Arab countries’ relations with Israel, the PA and Palestinian factions have so far achieved very little. The Unified Palestinian National Leadership for Popular Resistance, launched on September 3, is acting more like an activist group advocating for collective civilian action, similar to what was demonstrated when the US declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017.
In comments following the Palestinian factions’ meeting, the spokesperson for Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, merely regurgitated the decades-long consensus regarding the two-state compromise, stating that “no agreement will pass without the consent of the Palestinian people and their legitimate leadership.” Yet one of the PA’s biggest flaws in its politics is the refusal to involve Palestinian civilians in political decision-making. If “only the Palestinian people” have the right to determine Palestine’s boundaries, why is the PA opposed to changing its politics to a plan that incorporates decolonization?
Away from the PA’s foray into opportunely calling for activism, no tangible political proposals have so far been conveyed. With undeniable proof of the Arab League in fact moving closer to imitating the international duplicity regarding Palestine, calls to dissociate from the organization are far from a principled stance. Since its inception, the PA has not moved past reacting to Israeli violations, while heeding to the cues from the international community to adhere exclusively to the two-state paradigm.
The PA operates from a permanent contradiction which denounces land theft and settlement expansion, but rarely attributes these violations to colonialism.
The PA operates from a permanent contradiction which denounces land theft and settlement expansion, but rarely attributes these violations to colonialism, in much the same vein as the international community deals with Israel. How the PA deals with the Arab League offers no prospects for independent political strategy.
In a meeting with the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, the PA Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Abu Amr insisted upon upholding the Arab Peace Initiative “to resolve the Palestinian conflict.”
Far from opposing the Arab League’s support for normalizing relations with Israel, the PA is promoting the strategy within the international community. With the UN expressing hope that normalization of relations between Israel and Arab countries will possibly lead to negotiations, the PA has allies for its compromised politics, namely clinging to the two-state idea as required by the international community.
Let it not be forgotten that the international community has validated Israel, not merely normalized relations with the settler-colonial state. The fact is that the Arab League and the UN are on the same page as regards normalization, while the PA is still scrambling for non-existent political allies. Meanwhile the Palestinians have been politically abandoned by their leaders, the Arab world, and the international community.
If the PA is to hold on to its internationally-funded diplomatic platform, it has no other option than to tacitly agree with normalization by upholding defunct roadmaps for an assumed Palestinian independence. This will drive further rifts between the leadership and the Palestinian people; the latter having their anti-colonial struggle thwarted by diplomacy and now facing increasing repercussions as Israel expands its colonial enterprise over Palestinian territory.
The Palestinian people are standing alone. If the PA’s rhetoric is dismantled and seen for the compromised politics it abides by, the PA is exposed in aiding a sequence of Israeli colonial land theft, beholden as it is to international impositions in order to secure its funding for the illusory Palestinian “state-building.”
Turning inward to scrutinize the Palestinian leadership’s track record will reveal a series of conciliatory decisions, each one dissociated from historical and political contexts.
There is no denying the regional and international abandonment of Palestine; yet turning inward to scrutinize the Palestinian leadership’s track record will reveal a series of conciliatory decisions, each one dissociated from historical and political contexts, that facilitated what is now being touted as an unprecedented betrayal.
Let us not even delve into the disunity and fragmentation of the Palestinian leadership that has plagued and delegitimized its rule since 2006, when Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections and the international community refused to recognize the legitimacy of the electoral result. In its foray to representative politics, Hamas gradually turned towards diplomacy, even as the international community continued channeling funds towards the Fatah-dominated PA.
Attempts at Palestinian unity since the 2011 agreement in Cairo have failed, resulting in increased Palestinian political fragmentation as Palestinian resistance factions became more marginalized, while the PA consolidated its rule, despite having no electoral legitimacy to govern.
Financing one rule over another has nothing to do with Palestinian independence and statehood. It does, however, promote disunity, which allows international actors greater leverage over Palestinian politics. While the PA keeps promoting the two-state solution, Hamas turned to Egypt for mediation talks. Yet, in the absence of a Palestinian strategy, the so-called “unified front” is likely to repeat past mistakes of seeking external influence, and who is to blame for this other than the leaders themselves?