The Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Minister, Riyad Al-Maliki, has said that it will forego its six-month presidency of the Arab League due to the organisation’s attitude towards the normalisation of relations with Israel at the expense of the Palestinian cause. “The State of Palestine has decided to relinquish and forsake its right to preside over the Arab league Council because it is not an honour for it to watch the rush of the Arabs toward normalisation [of relations with Israel],” Al-Maliki declared.
The minister was careful not to blame Arab countries for normalisation. “They are not the decision-makers, regretfully,” he pointed out.
Washington may have orchestrated the political concessions and initiatives for Israel and Arab countries, but Arab leaders’ complicity in the normalisation process cannot be overlooked. This is particularly the case now that it has become clear that Palestine has been abandoned by its one-time regional allies. This has actually been the situation for decades, with Arab regimes paying lip service to the cause. This gratified the PA which prioritised such bogus solidarity over efforts to unite the Palestinian factions to enable a collective, anti-colonial approach to the dilemma in which the Palestinians find themselves.
Furthermore, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) has not as yet said that it is quitting the Arab League. In truth, the absence of a concerted Palestinian political strategy makes the decision irrelevant. So far removed is the Palestinian cause from the normalisation trend, that the PA’s reactions, albeit promoted as a resolute stance, are merely admissions of defeat.
The PA’s idea of “resisting” has so far amounted to nothing more than assuming a pseudo-activist role, reacting to politics instead of being proactive with an anti-colonial strategy. Had the PA assessed the Arab Peace Initiative as the groundwork for normalisation with Israel, it would have benefited from years of planning. However, it is not an autonomous entity; it is dependent upon external donors to function and wield the little power it has to suit the same external interests. The latter view the Arab Peace Initiative positively due to its endorsement of the two-state compromise.
A glance at a map depicting the countries which only recognise Israel but not Palestine illustrates how isolated Palestine really is. Countries which only recognise Israel, or which recognise both Israel and Palestine, are the majority, hence the international compromises which are always in Israel’s favour. The PA has gravitated towards such compromises and taken its cues from countries that are pro-Israel, while claiming to be pro-Palestine. It is no surprise that the same dynamics repeated themselves regionally through the Arab League’s condoning of normalisation while claiming that the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative is still relevant. No question has been asked regarding the context in which the framework is still relevant. On the contrary, the PA still sticks to the assumption that relevance is equivalent to support for the Palestinian cause.
Al-Maliki might not like to call this stance “waiting”, as he has commonly referred to the international community’s designs on Palestine. However, the PA is structured upon waiting; waiting until another sliver of Palestine is ripped away from the Palestinians and the PA can claim a short-lived limelight until it fades into the compromise erected by the international community. The Arab League has employed similar tactics and achieved the expected results. Is there now any chance whatsoever of the PA, at the very least, analysing its shortcomings and admitting its political failures as a constructive next step?
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.