The most dangerous thing about the new wave of Arab normalisation with the Israeli occupation is that the countries involved are trying to justify what they're doing by demonising the Palestinians, opposing them and claiming that they are the aggressors who reject peace and coexistence. It is a stupid proposition, but it is also dangerous and unprecedented. These countries want to get close to Israel by fighting the Palestinians.
On previous occasion, and specifically in the case of Jordan and Egypt, the justification put forward was always that when normalising with the occupation and establishing official and direct political and diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv it was because Cairo and Amman wanted to serve the Palestinians and reach a just peace that guaranteed the establishment of a Palestinian state. Hence, the justification for normalisation in the seventies and nineties was to reclaim lost and denied Palestinian rights. This time, the normalising states have plumbed to a new low in trying to justify their deals with Israel by betraying the Palestinians, and pointing out that they were the first to recognise Israel and establish relations. Some even claim that Palestinians sold their land to the Israelis. Such ridiculous lies do not deserve a response.
Faced with this unprecedented Arab subjugation and embracing of the Zionist entity, and the race to be recognised by the occupation, we need to know what the Palestinians can do to confront this Arab aggression allied with the Israelis. The most important characteristic of the Palestinian position on these developments is that it is unified. The position adopted by the Palestinian Authority and Fatah is no different to that of Hamas, and there is a collective feeling about the need to challenge Arab actions seeking to bypass the people of Palestine and impose an American "solution" that best suits the Israelis.
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The general feeling in occupied Palestine is that Arab normalisation is part of the "deal of the century", part of an international scheme that not only wants to dictate the way forward to the Palestinians, but also wants to impose on them a new leadership from abroad. The Americans may claim that the US Ambassador was "misquoted" when he said that Washington backs renegade Mohammed Dahlan to replace President Mahmoud Abbas, but at least one commentator has suggested that he may simply have been testing public opinion on the matter.
The latest Arab normalisation is, therefore, part of a bigger project, and the story is much bigger than an Arab-Jew love-in, an exchange of ambassadors and airlines flying to new destinations. There is actually an American-Israeli-Arab plan to create a new Palestinian Authority with a new reality in the occupied Palestinian territories. This extends to granting Jews the right to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque, and stripping away Palestinian or Jordanian sovereignty over Jerusalem and its holy places. In the face of these facts, which are obvious to everyone, the only thing required from the Palestinians is genuine unity, and a return to legitimate resistance, which can be defined by the Palestinians themselves once reconciliation is complete. All kinds of popular, political, social and peaceful struggle against the occupation and the latest conspiracy should be on the table.
A few days ago, details — most probably accurate — were leaked about a meeting between Fatah and Hamas in Istanbul. If it goes ahead and both parties take it seriously, it will be exceptional and unlike any previous attempt at reconciliation between the two movements. It will be a direct meeting taking place without intermediaries, and the only motive for holding it will be the awareness of the threat facing the Palestinians, and the need to transcend any political differences to overcome it. Ending the Palestinian division and uniting is the first and most important step to thwart the American-Israeli-Arab plot to erase the Palestinian people.
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Are the Palestinians capable of such unity? The Secretary of the Executive Committee of the PLO, Dr Saeb Erekat, answered this question succinctly when he pointed out that the deal of the century is the 88th attempt to liquidate the Palestinian issue, and Palestinians thwarted the previous 87. Erekat is confident in the ability of the Palestinians to do the same to this attempt as well, not least because he and four million other Palestinians are still living on their land, despite Israel's overt and covert ethnic cleansing to expel them.
What is required today, and urgently, is to end the Palestinian division. This will allow the focus to be on dealing with the dangers facing the Palestinian people on a very real level and thus foil the Arab Zionist alliance which wants to overthrow Fatah, Hamas, Abbas and Haniyeh, and appoint puppets in their place who will dance to Israel's tune.
Translated from Al Quds Al Arabi, 21 September 2020
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.