Prior to the meeting of the Arab League on Wednesday, the Palestinian Authority (PA) Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki called on his Arab counterparts to reject the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-Israel normalisation deal. The deal was declared by the US, the UAE and Israel on 13 August, surprising the Palestinians and the Arab population, while creating joy among the Israeli officials and population.
Addressing his counterparts, Al-Maliki stated: “In the face of the UAE-Israeli normalisation agreement, it has become necessary for us to issue a position to reject this move; otherwise, our meeting will be considered as a blessing or being complicit with the normalisation.”
Later on, the Arab foreign ministers met via video conference and discussed for three hours the issue of the US-brokered UAE-Israel deal, which would be officially celebrated in Washington on 15 September. The virtual meeting concluded that each Arab country is free to practice its own foreign policy the way it desires, the Secretary of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit told the media.
“Discussions regarding this point were serious,” Arab League Assistant Secretary-General Hossam Zaki told a reporter following the meeting. “It was comprehensive and took some time. But it did not lead in the end to agreement about the draft resolution that was proposed by the Palestinian side.”
Speaking to Palestinian media, Palestinian Ambassador to the Arab League Muhannad Al-Aklouk confirmed that the PA exerted much effort to convince the Arab League to condemn the normalisation of ties with the Israeli occupation, but the efforts were sadly in vain.
“In response, Palestine presented a draft resolution that condemns the UAE-Israeli normalisation deal,” he conveyed. “The Arab countries, however, voted down the draft.” Nevertheless, he disclosed that some Arab countries did their best to legitimise the normalisation with Israel.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO)’s Executive Committee Ahmed Majdalani expressed: “What happened is clear and expected. The coalition supporting the UAE is the strongest in the Arab League and the most influential. The inability to condemn the UAE means a new policy is being adopted in the Arab League that allows any Arab country to establish relations with Israel, and bypass the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002.”
Given the efforts exerted by the Palestinian leadership to delegitimise normalisation, observers of the Palestinian issue might feel there is a change in the longstanding official Palestinian stance from the Israeli occupation. But there are many reasons to prove the opposite.
For example, how can we explain the Palestinian anger with the UAE-Israel deal and its withdrawal of the Palestinian ambassador from Abu-Dhabi, while Egypt and Jordan have peace agreements and good relations with Israel, and while each of these Arab countries has an ambassador in Tel Aviv, and Israel has Jewish ambassadors in their capitals?
Adding to this, many Palestinian and PLO officials have homes in Amman and hold Jordanian citizenship, including PA, PLO and Fatah President Mahmoud Abbas, who owns two apartments, a villa and other real estate in Jordan, according to Chief Editor of Rai Al-Youm Abdel-Bari Atwan.
How can we explain the continuous PA-Israeli security coordination despite the official declaration by the Palestinian leadership to stop it in May, as part of renouncing all Palestinian commitments under the Oslo Agreement?
Of course, PA Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein Al-Sheikh explained this to The New York Times, when he declared that the Palestinian security services would continue to: “Maintain law and order and fight terrorism.” The PA refers to the Palestinian resistance as “terrorism” and fighting it as “maintaining law”. He stressed: “We will prevent violence and chaos. We will not allow bloodshed. That is a strategic decision.” The PA refers to the anti-Israeli demonstrations and peaceful activities as “violence” and “chaos”, in order to justify cracking down on them.
The New York Times did not spare any effort to give examples of these explanations, citing an incident outside the West Bank city of Jenin as the PA security undermined a potential Palestinian resistance act against the Israeli troops who patrol the occupied Palestinian area. This is alongside the incident when a large convoy of Israeli troops escorted hundreds of Jewish worshippers to Joseph’s Tomb in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, as the PA officers guarding the site left when they saw the Israelis arriving, only resuming their posts after they had left.
Aside from this, the PA attempt to get the Arab League to condemn the UAE-Israel deal is futile, and the Palestinian leadership clearly recognises that such an endeavour is impossible to achieve because the Arab League takes its decisions unanimously. “If one state does not support a certain decision, it is automatically dropped down,” Political Science professor Abdul-Sattar Qasem informed me. “So, how could the Arab League have condemned the UAE for this deal while it is a member of the organisation? Adding to this, there are two member states which maintain deals with Israel and many other states which already hailed the deal.”
Justifying the actions of the PA, Qasem affirmed: “The Palestinian leadership live on deception, cheating and lying. It is the leader and mother of normalisation. They want the Arab League to condemn what they are already doing. This is only a media show.”
Qasem stressed: “The PA will retreat from its opposition to the UAE-Israel deal and will throw itself back to the bosom of the Israeli occupation. It might apologise later on to Abu-Dhabi in return for some money.”
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.