There is no Arab consensus on keeping the Palestinian cause as a pure foreign policy issue.
The big shift is not marginalizing the Palestinian case but turning it primarily to an Israeli domestic problem.03 September 2020 03:06
Professor in Political Science at Bar Ilan University, Tel Aviv
UAE-Israel announcement on upgrading their secret relations to full diplomatic relations, shows that a strategic shift happened in the region. Earlier Israel's occupation was a foreign relations issue. Land for peace was the key to achieve peace as UN Security Council resolution 242 accepted shortly after the 1967 war has put it.
Israel's peace agreements with Egypt in 1979 is linked to the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. Israeli-Jordanian peace in 1994 was possible only after Israeli – PLO Oslo agreement. The Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 conditioned normalization and peace with Israel full withdrawal to pre-June 1967 war lines, the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestine and a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance of UN resolution 194. None of these conditions exists in the UAE-Israel agreement.
The Arab League is broken and Iran threatens Arab conservative regimes. They seek protection in Israel's arms with the US backing. Europe has its own divisions between authoritarian and liberal regimes and Britain stepping out of the EU. Therefore, West Europe is not ready to replace the US as the broker between Israel and Palestine, nor China or Russia.
Oslo agreement of 1993 was not a peace agreement just an interim one. Since it did not lay down a framework for the end station, Israel could accelerate its settlements building. Recovered from the shock of Oslo agreement and PLO-Israel mutual recognition, Oslo opponents worked to fail it.
When politicians and civil society activists discussed peace in attractive resorts or foreign office discussion rooms, Israel created new facts on the ground by expanding settlements to the extent that Oslo style two state solution looks impossible to implement. Half-hearted Israeli ministers and doubtful government operators joint settler organizations in this operation.
Consequently, Israel rules over the whole area between Jordan and the Mediterranean despite the demographic equality between the two peoples. After destroying the Palestinian Authority in retaliation to the second Intifada, 2000-2005, Israel let it reestablished conditioned functioning as her sub-contractor. Thus, a single regime rules over the whole area.
In other words, the Palestinians are de-facto annexed to Israel whereas the settlers enjoy de-jure citizenship rights. This hierarchy of collective rights and power led the Israeli NGO Yesh Din to conclude that Israel commits apartheid in the West Bank.
More than a generation after Oslo, there is no Arab consensus on keeping the Palestinian cause as a pure foreign policy issue. The Palestinians in 1967 areas are part of the Israeli ruling system, not outside of it. The big shift, in my view, is not marginalizing the Palestinian case but turning it primarily to an Israeli domestic problem.
This shift calls for a new strategy to topple the one regime that Israel already created. Recognizing the state of Palestine by major European countries, first and for most permanent UN Security Council members, can improve its political status internationally but not rebuild the paralyzed national movement domestically or replace national liberation struggle.
A renewed liberation agency is needed inside the Israeli ruling system. Moreover, this shift undermines an Israeli view that through moderate Arab state incentives Israel may get Palestinian concession on issues that previously prevented concluding Israeli-Palestinian peace.
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