Benjamin Netanyahu looked like the groom at an upmarket wedding at last week’s Warsaw Summit on the Middle East. Everyone else looked like extras, props for the main man in centre stage.
Those who have listened to the Israeli Prime Minister’s discourse over the past two years will rarely find anything significantly different or new in his statements. He simply repeats stock phrases about the secret and public normalisation between Israel and the Arab countries. In fact, he is using this in his attempt to mobilise the Israeli public against his political opponents and get himself re-elected in April.
More often than not, Netanyahu exaggerates the reality of this normalisation, not only as part of his propaganda, but also because he believes that it will encourage hesitant Arabs to follow in the footsteps of those who have already crossed over.
Although the summit in the Polish capital was meant to focus on the confrontation with Iran, it turned into a platform to celebrate Netanyahu. It also provided a gateway for the liquidation of the Palestinian cause.
I want to stress here that Washington’s grudge against Iran is not related to its clashes with the Arab states over its involvement in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, but its attitude towards Israel. If the Arabs had ignored this conference and other US efforts, the position would not have changed in the slightest. What Israel wants is a missile programme to keep the regional balance of power in its favour. This is not only related to Iran, but also those commonly known as the “moderate Arabs”; its objection to what was said to be Saudi Arabian ballistic missile and nuclear programmes is evidence of this. The same goes for Egypt and any other Arab state.
It has to be said that what has been going on in the region since the overthrow of the Arab Spring by the counter-revolution, and then Syria being turned into a black hole with pressure to deprive the rebels of decisive qualitative weapons, leading to the sanctions on Iran, is all intended to target the Palestinian cause. The aim is to achieve what the Israelis have failed to achieve since Oslo and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Hence, the Warsaw agenda shifted from the pursuit of Iran to targeting the Palestinians. The former programme is actually proceeding as planned, even though it is not as successful as Washington wants in the light of European reservations about sanctions on Tehran. We just have to take note of the daily leaks regarding the “deal of the century” in the run-up to the summit to see the truth in this. Added to that, we have the programme of US envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, which will be followed by a tour of the Gulf States to rally economic support for the Palestinian Authority. This means that the Arabs will be paying for the liquidation of the Palestinian cause out of their own pockets.
This is happening because the only programme available at the moment to liquidate the cause is not related to Trump’s “deal of the century”; the cause will not be completely liquidated once everyone signs off on the deal. There will, it seems, be an indirect liquidation instead. In Warsaw, Netanyahu stated that finding a final agreement to end the conflict does not seem possible at the moment and that normalisation with the Arab states is normalisation before peace.
This clearly means that he wants large-scale Arab normalisation ties with economic improvements, and maybe come logistical changes to the status of the PA’s current self-governance, without having to concede an inch of Jerusalem. This is the “economic peace” that Netanyahu has floated for years. When this happens, the temporary situation will become permanent and the cause will be liquidated as planned.
It will end up with autonomy in parts of the West Bank — excluding Jerusalem — without any sovereignty; no return of the refugees; and no concession whatsoever by Israel regarding Palestinian territory, apart from the Gaza Strip , which is not part of “Judea and Samaria”. The end of the Palestinian cause will basically be Israel ridding itself of the burden of managing the indigenous population of the land that it has occupied and colonised.
Despite being a major conspiracy targeting the Palestinian cause, involving some Arabs, it will end in failure, even though it is PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’s policy to give it a chance of success by devoting the PA to serving the Israeli occupation. I say this because the Palestinian people will not allow this to happen and will revolt against it. Moreover, the Arab nation will not allow the liquidation of its central cause.
Trump, Kushner and Netanyahu, along with some misguided Arabs, do not realise that the Palestinian people and this nation of ours have a long history of confronting conspiracy and aggression. They will, however, come to realise it soon, God willing.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Arab on 20 February 2019
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.