Israel-Arab normalisation has not eliminated the resistance

The Palestinians have always been understood as the sacrificial lambs of the normalization feast between Israel and the Arab states.

The Palestinian issue was a thorn in the side of Arab states that wanted to create economic, military and political alliances with Israel.

Some Arab states, in an effort to hide their narrow self-interest, have tried to mollify the Palestinians by providing them with cosmetic “concessions” through these deals.

But Hamas’s surprise military operation against Israel on Saturday not only changed the strategic equation of the military confrontation with Israel, but also sent a message to countries that chose to normalize relations with the occupier.

This message was that any hopes of liquidating the Palestinian issue through normalization agreements were completely futile.

The Palestinian resistance is immune to economic incentives, bribes or sporadic statements to keep the fragile lie of a two-state solution believable.

The Palestinians want one thing and one thing only: liberation. No amount of change in the apparent alliance between Israel and any country in the region has been able to change this fundamental truth.

There is no greater proof of this than the events of the past two days.

The first to normalize

The Al-Aqsa flood operation “is a message to the Arab and Islamic world and the international community, especially those seeking normalization, that the Palestinian issue is alive until liberation,” Hezbollah, Lebanon’s de facto defense and deterrent force against repeated Israeli threats and aggressions, he said on Saturday.

Israel and Hezbollah reportedly exchanged fire on Sunday, fueling fears of a wider military confrontation.

Ismail Haniya, the head of Hamas’s politburo, made a similar appeal to Arab normalizers in a speech on Saturday.

“I tell our brother countries that this occupation will not be of any use and normalization will not be of any use.

There is no greater proof of this than the Arab state that first normalized relations with Israel: Egypt.

Egypt formalized diplomatic relations with Israel in 1979 and the deal went into effect the following year.

Over the years, the country has become Israel’s partner in the siege of Gaza. Israel controls every entry and exit point with Gaza, except for the Rafah border crossing. This is controlled by Egypt, which uses it to tighten the noose around the neck of the coastal enclave. Even when Rafa is open, crossing can be difficult and dangerous.

In recent years, Egypt’s military regime, backed by the US and an ally of Israel, has taken extreme measures to strengthen Israel’s siege of Gaza, including the wholesale demolition of thousands of homes of Egyptian families along the border.

But predictably none of this, more than four decades after the treaty, has succeeded in achieving a “warm peace” between Egyptians and Israelis.

Exactly the opposite. On Sunday, an Egyptian police officer opened fire on Israeli tourists in the coastal city of Alexandria, killing two Israelis and an Egyptian.

Sunday’s incident serves as an example of how the vast majority of Egyptian citizens still view Israel as a collective regional enemy.

On Saturday, Egypt’s foreign ministry warned against further escalation and called for “restraint” in a statement.

Egypt called for international efforts to urgently intervene to stop the escalation and ensure that Israel “ends its attacks and provocative actions against the Palestinian people”.

Saudi wedding in jeopardy

So much for the first one.

Saudi Arabia, which was poised to become Israel’s latest bride, now finds itself facing a major obstacle.

On Saturday, Saudi Arabia called for “an immediate end to the escalation between the two countries.”

The Gulf state said the escalation was the result of “the continued occupation, the deprivation of the Palestinian people of their legal rights and the repetition of systematic provocations against their holy sites.”

The statement called for the activation of a “peace process leading to a two-state solution”.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman presented the prospect of a normalization deal with Israel under the guise of offering concessions to the Palestinians, as he told Fox News in an exclusive television interview last month.

“Every day we are getting closer,” MBS told US television, but stressed that “for us, the Palestinian issue is very important.”

He added that if a breakthrough in the talks included meeting the “needs” of the Palestinians and promoting “peace” in the region, he was ready to cooperate with whoever was running the apartheid state.

Now, not only does this seem implausible in light of the Palestinian uprising rewriting its own rules of engagement with the Israelis, but after Saturday’s events, it will be a tall order for the Biden administration to convince the Israelis to even pretend they want to offer crumbs to the Palestinians. .

US officials are reportedly working to try to support efforts to bring about normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

“Look, who’s against normalization? Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran. So it would come as no surprise that part of the motivation may have been to thwart efforts to bring Saudi Arabia and Israel together,” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told CNN.

“It speaks to the fact that if we can achieve normalization, which is incredibly difficult,” Blinken added, “it will bring greater stability to the region.”

Blinken continued that “normalization cannot be a substitute for Israelis and Palestinians resolving their differences.”

Ahead of Saturday’s military confrontation, Israeli officials were tight-lipped about their goals in striking a deal with Saudi Arabia.

“We will not make any concessions to the Palestinians, this is a fabrication,” Israel’s far-right Finance Minister Betzalel Smotrich told Israel Military Radio last month.

The “fabrication” was right and debunked any claim that these agreements benefited the Palestinians.

But now the facade of concessions has been exposed for the smokescreen that it really is.

The public relations messages of the Abraham Accords constantly focus on false claims of achieving something for Palestinian rights, when in fact the opposite is true. The Palestinians always pay the price for such agreements.

Jordan’s King Abdullah cautioned against any enthusiasm for a Saudi-Israeli deal when he addressed the UN General Assembly last month.

“This belief of some in the region that you can parachute into Palestine, deal with the Arabs and work your way back – that doesn’t work,” King Abdullah said.

“And even those countries that have an agreement with Abraham’s Israel have difficulty moving publicly on these issues when Israelis and Palestinians are dying,” he added. “So if we don’t solve this problem, there will never be real peace.

Jordan is an integral part of US regional hegemony and shares the longest border with Israel. But since the Abraham Accords, the kingdom no longer enjoys the distinction of being—along with Egypt—one of only two countries in the region to have diplomatic relations with Israel, reducing its diplomatic status.

Whitewashing Israel’s responsibility

The United Arab Emirates, the initiator of these agreements, whitewashed Israel’s responsibility and simply “expressed great concern about the escalation of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.”

The Gulf state ignored Israel’s actions at Palestinian holy sites, although Hamas leaders cited these provocations at Al-Aqsa as the reason for the surprise attack.

Likewise, Bahrain’s foreign ministry also issued a muted statement downplaying Israel’s involvement and calling for restraint.

Qatar, which does not have diplomatic relations with Israel but often brokers cease-fires between it and Palestinian resistance fighters, has been tight-lipped in its attacks on Israel, saying Israeli provocations are what led to the escalation .

Qatar said it “holds Israel solely responsible for the continued escalation due to continued violations of the rights of the Palestinian people.”

Qatar called on Israel “to stop its flagrant violations of international law, respect resolutions of international legitimacy and the historic rights of the Palestinian people, and prevent these events from being used as a pretext to launch a new asymmetric war against Palestinian civilians in Gaza.”

The Gulf state’s statement similarly referred to the two-state solution without mentioning it specifically, calling for a Palestinian state on “the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

Not so silent majority

Contrary to the timid responses of most of their leaders, the majority of the Arab population clearly stands with the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation from Israeli occupation and settler colonialism.

Thousands of Yemenis took to the streets of their capital, Sana’a, to show their support for the Palestinians.

Demonstrators gathered near the Israeli embassy in Amman on Saturday to show solidarity with the Palestinians and reject their country’s relationship with Israel.

Many came out in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, in support of the Palestinians, despite their government’s relationship with Israel.

This article was first published in The Electronic Intifada on October 8, 2023

Tamara Nassar is associate editor of The Electronic Intifada.

The views expressed are personal to the author.

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