One year ago I predicted in this column that a Saudi embassy to Israel in Jerusalem was coming soon.
With last week’s news about the United Arab Emirates, it looks as if we are moving closer towards such a tragic eventuality.
US President Donald Trump formally announced that the UAE and Israel had signed a deal which committed both to establishing formal diplomatic relations.
According to the statement, the two regimes will meet in the coming weeks to sign bilateral agreements on tourism, direct flights, “security” (for which read: the arms trade and exchange of torture techniques), “technology” (for which read: cyberwarfare, spying and hijacking dissident’s phones) and reciprocal embassies.
This perfidious move is being touted as a “peace” agreement between “the Abrahamic religions” – but don’t be fooled. This is mere window dressing.
The UAE – an oppressive military dictatorship dominated by absolute monarchs – is simply toeing the imperial line set by Washington DC, and the huge economic incentives being thrust in their direction.
Hassan Sajwani, an Emirati billionaire, gushed on Twitter that “finally,” thanks to the agreement, Emiratis would be allowed to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites. Betraying the infamously fake piety of many Gulf Arab plutocrats, Sajwani tweeted the wrong photo (he posted an image of the Dome of the Rock instead).
But more to the point, his taunt was an incredibly cruel, vindictive and miserable provocation, displaying utter contempt for the people who actually live in Palestine under the thumb of the Israelis – the Palestinians.
Palestinian Muslims and Christians are habitually denied entry to their holy places in Jerusalem (including the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre) by Israeli occupation forces.
For an Emirati billionaire to flaunt the fact that he will soon be able to travel to Palestine and pray at the very same Islamic sites to which the indigenous people of the land are often denied entry by the racist Israeli military dictatorship which dominates them, is a sign of pure class contempt and xenophobia.
The same billionaire also denounced Palestinian protesters against the normalisation move as “bastards,” saying he would kiss the hand of Israeli occupation forces who stepped in to prevent some of the demonstrations.
The official Emirati line on Israel has changed – although the reality on the ground has not.
Although the UAE’s ties to Israel go back decades, there was a time when the state at least paid a degree of lip-service to popular Arab support for the Palestinian people’s liberation struggle.
In 2014, Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed tweeted in English, Hebrew and Arabic that “Israel kills children” and thus should be prosecuted at the International Criminal Court.
That took place during Israel’s last major war of aggression against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, including 500 children.
And remember back in 2010 when Dubai’s chief of police exposed Israel’s role in the murder of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, a commander in the Palestinian resistance?
Al-Mabhouh had been in Dubai when he was killed by a rather incompetent Mossad cell. The group had intended to make the murder look like death through natural causes, but they were caught on CCTV in a series of rather unconvincing disguises all over the hotel.
Dubai’s then police chief Dhahi Khalfan Tamim became a familiar face on TV screens the world over as he exposed Israel’s role in the plot.
While appearing to be a short-term strength, Israel’s increasing reliance on the support of Arab dictators to prop up its failed legitimacy is in fact a long-term strategic weakness.
Saudi recognition, when it comes, will be the height of this hypocrisy and short-term thinking.
The American and European pundits and politicians will (to the highly limited extent that they ever cared about them in the first place) forget Saudi crimes such as the murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi and the years-long criminal war against Yemen, and all rush to praise the killer Mohammed bin Salman for his upcoming “peace” with Israel.
Israel, as an illegitimate settler-colonial regime implanted in the heart of the Arab world by force – backed up by the European and Euro-American imperialists – will never be accepted by the masses of the region.
No amount of formal diplomatic recognition with dictators will convey legitimacy on Israel’s regime of racism, oppression and military dictatorship. As long as the Palestinian people continue to resist, Israel has lost.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.