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Palestinians must reject any conference that brings Arabs together with Zionists

PA President Mahmoud Abbas with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu on September 2010

Many reports are talking about a US-Israeli agreement that's being negotiated with some Arabs to convene a new peace conference. This is intended as preparation for the launch of a political process preceded or accompanied by Arab normalisation with the Zionist entity. This comes at a time when some Arabs are actually condemning the boycott of Israel, setting a new precedent.

In an interview before going to New York, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he rejected Arab normalisation with Israel. If we put aside the fact that Arabs are using the PA's own relations and security cooperation with the Zionists to justify their normalisation with Israel — "We will not be more Palestinian than Palestinians themselves" — we can build on the position of the head of the PA, at a time when the most we can aspire for is for Arabs not to conspire against the Palestinian cause, and to support it instead.

This is something that can be invested in, especially now that reconciliation with Hamas and the return of the reconciliation government to the Gaza Strip both seem possible. So, instead of this reconciliation being a path to a regional solution that deepens the status quo while giving way to further Arab normalisation (which with time can become a permanent thing and lead to an end to the Palestinian cause), it could be the basis for consensus between Hamas, Fatah and other factions, which can all reject that solution and reject any new conference with the Zionists.

Those who demand that Palestinians should coexist with the Israelis; and those who adopt the idea of the conference or the meeting followed by the regional solution; and those who practice normalisation in secret and publicly, or call for it; all of them know Benjamin Netanyahu's limits and have always asked the Israeli Prime Minister to accept the Arab initiative in return for broad normalisation with the Arab world, but in vain.

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They all know Netanyahu's limits, his rejection of the Arab initiative and his rejection of even more generous offers from the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. However, they want to ignore all of this in order to make it possible for a weak solution, and all in order to please the Americans, thinking that the road to US approval passes through Tel Aviv.

Some of them are doing this for the sake of legitimacy, some for support, some out of fear, while others want to be able to face Iran. The result, though, remains the same: working towards getting rid of the Palestinian cause, ignoring the fact that the US is no longer the master of the universe and Washington won't help them against Iran. This, of course, refers to those interested in the confrontation, because there are some who do not see it as a priority at all.

They possibly also have one thing in common; they all want to buy Washington's silence when it comes to their appalling records on democracy and human rights. This is something that may have to resurface again in the months and years ahead, having already disappeared during Trump's short spell in the White House, and Obama's latter days.

The conclusion is that the Palestinian factions must all agree to reject the regional solution, in all its aspects. They can be assisted by some Arabs, who can still say no, or refuse to normalise even tacitly by their silence. When these Arabs raise their voices with rejection, they will embarrass those who call for it in front of their people, although most are no longer concerned with what their own people think.

Translated from Thenewkhalij, 23 September 2017

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

ArticleAsia & AmericasIsraelMiddle EastOpinionPalestineUS
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