I wrote an article that was published in Al-Quds Al-Arabi on 18 June 2001 about the city of Jerusalem. "They conspired against you, Jerusalem, the city of the Arabs of the past and present, the home of Jesus son of Mary, and the destination of Prophet Muhammad during his [miraculous] night journey," I said. "Oh Jerusalem, the first Qiblah, it was towards you that the first prayer was performed, when the Arab Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, performed his first prayer in Islam."
I continued: "O sister city of Makkah and Medina [sic], some senior Arab leaders conspired against you, even before the West, with its organisations, institutions and doctrines, conspired against you. The plotting of these Arab leaders against you lies in the fact that they are incredibly silent in the face of the destruction, damage, attacks, confiscation, killings and torture you are being subject to at the hands of the Zionist leaders, without any real objection to these actions against your perseverant people."
Instead, such leaders were content only with condemnation and disapproval. Now, in the light of the unprecedented Arab subjugation and submissiveness in order to keep their authority in some regional capitals, last month US President Donald Trump was emboldened to announce his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He also instructed his Secretary of State to work on moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority leadership went to the UN Security Council, but failed to achieve what it wanted. The PA then went to the General Assembly under the principle of "Uniting for Peace" and obtained a vote against the American decision with a majority of 128 in favour to 9 against; there were 35 abstentions and 18 countries absent. I now have a question to ask the PA: what is the next step after this?
Mahmoud Abbas says that he will seek to join more international organisations, such as the International Criminal Court, but what will the Palestinian people benefit from that step? The answer is simple: they will benefit nothing at all.
During the extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held in Istanbul to reach a unified position on the aforementioned US announcement, Abbas said that the Palestinians "will no longer accept" any American role in the Middle East process at all. Very close sources said that Saudi Arabia asked Abbas not to participate in the Istanbul summit (Middle East Eye, 25 January 2018). However, how can a summit be held for the sake of Jerusalem without the attendance of the PA president or Jordan?
All the evidence suggests that Mahmoud Abbas is no longer the decision-maker when it comes to the Palestinian cause. As I have noted previously, he is no longer trusted in Jordan or by many Palestinian officials, let alone the Palestinian people. This is because he is not transparent or honest in his dealings with his partners for the future of the region.
Jordan is the main partner in the future of Palestine, along with the leaders of other Palestinian organisations. Hence, the PA leadership must be honest and trustworthy, and exchange information with its partners as well as the Palestinian people in order for them to plan how they will confront the mutual enemy. They must avoid the fatal mistakes made in the Madrid and other Conferences.
After the Istanbul summit, it was expected that Abbas would take executive measures to respond to the Trump administration's decision, especially after the UN General Assembly vote and an implementation of the spirit of the summit in Turkey. Such measures should, it is reasonable to assume, have included ending the internal political conflict and announcing a comprehensive reconciliation with the Gaza Strip, as well as bringing to an end the PA's security coordination with Israel. Due to the fact that he has not made any decision that benefits the Palestinians, as well as many other reasons that date back to the Oslo Accords in 1993, Abbas is no longer worthy of leading the Palestinian people. He should step down and leave the matter to younger leaders capable of achieving the goals of the Palestinian people.
In Egypt, meanwhile, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is deceiving his citizens and the Arabs in general; indeed, he is also deceiving himself. How? I will not talk about the internal affairs of Egypt. What concerns me today is Egypt's position on the Palestinian issue. When it was a member of the Security Council representing the Arab cause, its performance did not match Egypt's great regional status. It proposed a draft resolution to the Security Council on Jerusalem on behalf of the Arabs, and the US amended it in order to make it worthless. The resolution did not mention the US by name in order to avoid it participating in the vote since it is a party to the matter, in accordance with the UN Charter. The Egyptian delegate informed Cairo of this and the Egyptian president agreed to the US amendments. The draft was then put to a vote and US Ambassador Nikki Haley used her veto to block the resolution.
Everyone went to the General Assembly, and Egypt dutifully voted in favour of the US announcement. Leaks broadcast by Mekameleen TV have revealed that Egypt colluded with America and Israel. They also indicated that the belief in Cairo is that any Palestinian uprising would harm Egypt's national security; that it would favour Hamas and the Islamic groups; and that it must, therefore, be thwarted. The leaks also revealed that an anonymous Egyptian intelligence officer gave instructions to some local journalists and artists to promote the acceptance of Ramallah as the capital of Palestine instead of Jerusalem. This has apparently been accepted by Al-Sisi's government. Furthermore, additional leaks will soon emerge to confirm that Egypt and some Gulf countries are working hard to block an Arab summit on Jerusalem, following US instructions and Israeli insistence.
We need to stop Mahmoud Abbas from becoming little more than a nightwatchman protecting Israel's illegal settlements and the world's Zionists. I urge him to step down and to announce to the Arab and international media that he has been subjected to the worst forms of threats from powerful and influential Arab leaders.
This article first appeared in Arabic on Arabi21 on 9 January 2018
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.