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Arab leadership and their failure on the Palestinian front

Palestinians were not waiting or expecting an Arab resolution adopting their liberation to come out of the recent summit, nor did they believe that the topic of their liberation would even be a priority of the discussion agenda. Though they did hope for the minimum, which is making a decision to lift the blockade on Gaza and force Egyptian President Abdelfattah Al-Sisi to implement this. Instead Al-Sisi adopted all measures to further suffocate the Gaza Strip, delay its reconstruction, and perpetuate its tragedy. He used Egyptian state media to demonise Gazans, destroyed their tunnels, and established a buffer zone on its borders after destroying part of Egypt’s side of Rafah and displacing its residents.

Although many blame the Arab League for betraying Palestinians and marginalising their resistance, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas has done everything he can to limit the progress of the resistance. He constantly expresses his hopes of Arabs taking action to eliminate Hamas, but he refuses to even call for lifting the siege on Gaza or supporting the resistance against the Palestinian occupation. As days pass, it becomes more explicit that Abbas cares little about the state of Palestinians and the main agenda behind his policies is to prolong his governance.

The concern with liberation has declined both in the Palestinian political machine and amongst other Arabs. It seems Palestinians need more time before we can become aware of the size of the catastrophe embodied in this leadership, which monopolised guardianship over the Palestinian cause. This leadership has dwarfed the Palestinian problem and perceived it to the world as an internal dispute, the need for financial support, and the desire to suppress the ‘rebellious’ region known as Gaza; which is the only arena that has the tools for resistance. It is worth noting that resistance is difficult in light of Gaza’s geographic situation. The blockade imposed on it by both Zionists and Arabs and the incitement against it from the PA leadership merely for going beyond the stipulations of Oslo and the subsequent agreements.

Despite all of this, the leaders of the main Arab players, especially Saudi Arabia, could have taken initiative to make a qualitative shift regarding the Palestinian cause, without showing bias to one Palestinian political factor. In light of Al-Sisi’s dependency on these countries and his need for their funding, they could have required him to lift the blockade on Gaza, or at least alleviate it. They could have also hinted at supporting the resistance against the Zionist occupation or withdrawing the Arab Initiative after it lost its validity. As for hiding behind the same rigid rhetoric and being content with sending off the Palestinian issue after embellishing it with some verbal pleasantries, this does not give the general public hope for any good coming from the new Saudi monarch, nor does it reassure them that real change will occur that will benefit the nation and keep it away from Western domination.

No one denies the magnitude of the challenges and disasters faced by the nation on many fronts and that this was one of the reasons for the decline of the Arab concern regarding the Palestinian cause, but we must also remember that the situation was the same when the Palestinian cause alone was the focus of Arab concerns. This rhetorical based form of concern does not go further than verbal solidarity or limited financial aid. None of the expected or desired firm policy decisions were ever adopted, nor are they expected to be adopted as long as the mainstream Arab system continues to act in accordance with its interests and establishing its authority, while viewing anything other than this as marginal details that must be eliminated or dismissed.

Translated from Felesteen newspaper, 31 March, 2015

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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