Creating new perspectives since 2009

UAE-Israeli normalisation, ‘peace’ and the Nobel Peace Prize

September 10, 2020 at 4:00 pm

US President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, DC on 12 August 2020 [Win McNamee/Getty Images]

Should we take the Nobel Peace Prize seriously? This year’s nominations include two polar opposites: Cuba’s Henry Reeves Brigade, whose medical interventions in the coronavirus context have placed the country’s internationalism on the world stage; and US President Donald Trump, nominated by a far-right Norwegian politician for his role in the UAE-Israeli normalisation deal.

It is the second time that Trump has been nominated by the same politician. This time, says Christian Tybring-Gjedde, because he “has done more trying to create peace between nations that most other peace prize nominees.” That depends on how peace is defined, however.

The normalisation agreement is little more than a formal approval of Israeli colonisation of Palestinian land. It also endears itself to international diplomacy, none of which is conducive to peace, other than to distort its definition in order to bestow impunity on Israel for each sliver of colonial expansion. Dissociated from history, tethered to decades of negotiations and time wasting, Palestinians are excluded from the political process altogether. Who will oppose the US-international concept of peace when the oppressed are denied not only their voice, but also their relevance in terms of rights and existence?

Is “peace” the reference emblazoned on the aircraft that symbolised the “historic flight” from Tel Aviv to the UAE through Saudi Arabian airspace, Riyadh having paved the way for normalisation with Israel in 2002 through the Arab Peace Initiative? Or is it the absolute non-recognition of the legitimate Palestinian right of return in order to alter the definition of Palestinian refugees and eliminate their rights altogether?

READ: Palestine calls Arab countries to reject Israel-UAE normalisation

Perhaps “peace” – in international terms – can also be used to describe the latest UAE statement which asserts that there will be no change in normalisation with Israel if the settler-colonial entity decides to destroy what is left of Gaza. If that is not incitement to mass murder and destruction, I don’t know what is.

Israeli forces fire at Palestinians during the Great March of Return along the Gaza - Israel border on 15 February 2019 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli forces fire at Palestinians during the Great March of Return along the Gaza fence on 15 February 2019 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

The Nobel Peace Prize is a farce, but it is a dangerous farce because it manipulates public opinion according to the international agenda. When he was US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger was awarded the prize in 1973, just days before Chile was destroyed by the US-backed military coup that overthrew Salvador Allende. The UN was also a joint winner in 2001 alongside Kofi Annan, “for their work for a better organised and more peaceful world.” A sweeping statement if there ever was one which illustrates how “peace”, in the official sense at least, has lost all significance.

Trump has built overtly upon decades of pro-Israel US foreign policy. Ignoring the process that led to Israel and the international community riding roughshod over Palestine and the Palestinian people’s political rights is what has partly caused his exaggerated vilification and adulation. There is no speaking of Palestine without the US taking centre-stage at this point, while Trump also takes precedence over US foreign policy. It is self-defeating and this farcical nomination plays into the narrative. The bigger picture in terms of the Nobel Peace Prize is the agenda and purpose it serves. As part of a corrupt system, perhaps nominations should be restricted to those already corrupted.

Even more urgent, however, is the need to address the international manipulation of “peace” and how, in the context of Palestine, it is always the Israeli concept that prevails. Peace must be defined from the experience and expectations of the oppressed. For Palestinians, this must depart from decolonisation and no other variant or fabrication should be normalised, to safeguard against the manipulation of peace at the expense of oppressed people the world over.

READ: Why doesn’t ‘normalisation’ really mean peace?

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