While the international boycott campaign against Israel is growing and the BDS movement is making headway, Arab-Israeli communications are increasing; officially behind closed doors and “popularly” out in the open for the media’s camera lenses to capture. We are witnessing one of the largest-scale “solicitation and begging” operations, as described by the former Qatari foreign minister, aimed at convincing Israel to accept the Arab Peace Initiative, which was outlined in Beirut over 13 years ago. During these years, Israel worked towards making critical changes in the “fait accompli” maps in Jerusalem and the West Bank, in a manner that makes the establishment of a viable Palestinian state a far-fetched dream.
The Israeli Knesset is holding an emergency meeting after the UK’s National Union of Students decided to boycott Israel. Hundreds of writers, artists and academics across the country are openly boycotting Israel, the settlement and Apartheid state. Europe’s parliaments are taking part in the largest manifestation of symbolic recognition of an independent Palestinian state. Sweden, followed by the Vatican, are leading the churches and the West to officially recognising the Palestinian state, while Israel is discussing, for the first time since its establishment, the danger of “de-legitimisation” and its isolation.
Israel has no qualms about listening to the “Arab wishes” regarding the initiative, especially since it does not hinder the public and secret normalisation processes occurring between Israel and a number of “moderate Arab states”. Netanyahu, who has implicitly and explicitly rejected the Palestinian “state”, “right of return”, and “the division of the unified eternal capital city”, participated in three election campaigns and won them all. His campaign was run under the slogan of “the Iranian danger first”, promoting cooperation with the “Sunni Arab world” with regards to this issue. He also added ambiguous talk of the danger and threat of terrorism which unites everyone, of course in reference to Hezbollah and Hamas. While many Arabs agree to his categorisation of Hezbollah as a terrorist group, for doctrinal reasons as well as Iran’s influence, they do not share the same opinion with regards to Hamas, which may “serve” in the war on Iran and its supporters.
It has been apparent that the frequency of coordination and cooperation, the implicit and secret coordination and the public coordination are only the tip of the iceberg. They have increased lately based on the “mutual frustration” at the American positions. Netanyahu, along with some Arab leaders, had hoped that Barack Obama would follow in the footsteps of his predecessor and engage in a third war, this time against Iran. They also did not welcome Obama’s hesitation to bomb Damascus, destroy the Syrian army and state, while they are not very enthusiastic about what is going on in Iraq, especially in light of “America’s lax dealings” with Haider Al-Abadi’s government. This changed after the Yemeni crisis, as the positions were more similar, with regards to the concern over Tehran and frustration at Washington.
In any case, some of the Arab leaders, who are obsessed with Iran and its growing role in the region, know that any talk of the Palestinian cause is no longer taken seriously. They are all distracted by other priorities. Even Israel, which has always been concerned with regards to the armament of others, has begun supporting the armament of some Arab countries with advanced qualitative arms, as long as it is confident that that these weapons are targeting Iran in the East, not Israel in the West.
Israel is sure that all talk of the “Arab Peace Initiative” is nothing more than “throwing dust in the eyes of others” and “clearing their conscience”, nothing more, nothing less. Therefore, we find that Israel is continuing its Judaisation and settlement projects, as well as its hostility and aggression. Israel is also explicitly confirming the credibility and accuracy of its stubborn positions with regards to the Beirut initiative. A few days ago, we heard someone in Tel Aviv say: “Look at Syria; didn’t we make the right decision by refusing to withdraw from the Golan Heights? What would we have gained if we considered the slogan ‘land in exchange for peace’?”
It is ironic that Israel is no longer considered an “enemy” by a growing number of countries that have not signed a peace treaty with Israel nor have they engaged in public diplomatic relations with it. Israel is considered a “delayed enemy” until further notice, by those promoting jihad, a caliphate, an emirate, and the “rule of Sharia law”. As for what was once known as the axis or resistance and opposition, its parties are engaged in self-defence battles and battles to maintain authority, extending from Gaza to Jisr Al-Shughur and Qalamon.
Poor Abu Mazen and poor PA, it no longer possesses the decision to “dissolve itself”, despite the repeated threats issued by its leaders. It seems that the Palestinians will have to transition from one bad Arab phase and era to an even worse one.
Translated from Addustour on 8 June 2015.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.