Last Thursday, Jewish businessman Sylvan Adams told an Israeli channel that FIFA is seriously considering Israel, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt to co-host the football World Cup in 2030. Adams, who is close to FIFA president Gianni Infantino, said that sport can be a bridge for building relationships and friendships with neighbours, and could change the entire model in the region and elsewhere in the world. He added that this matter was raised during Infantino's visit to Israel to participate in the opening ceremony of the Friedman Peace Centre in Jerusalem.
This is probably just wishful thinking on the part of Adams, but it is one of a growing number of Zionist dreams for Israel to normalise relations with important Arab countries. We have also seen the UAE taking part recently in military manoeuvres with Israel, and its participation, along with Morocco, in a beauty pageant. Economic normalisation is accelerating with talk about projects with strategic aspects, and the Israeli prime minister has visited Cairo. There have been many other manifestations of normalisation, whether with new countries on this path (some of which have a legacy of links with the apartheid state), or with Jordan and Egypt, which have peace treaties with Israel.
Increased normalisation is the latest project to eradicate the Palestinian cause, and countries are jumping on the bandwagon. This used to be known as the "regional solution"; opening relations with Arab countries without actually dealing with the prime cause of the conflict: the creation of Israel on Palestinian territory. At a time when the situation of the Palestinian Authority has improved, what is temporary is turning into something permanent.
Netanyahu called this solution "economic peace", and this seems to suit his successor, Naftali Bennett. Shimon Peres called it "the temporary state", while Ariel Sharon used "the long-term transitional solution".
The matter requires some analysis to reveal the truth behind the project. The Zionists have not been honest about the future; they have lured the Arabs and the Palestinians by talking about postponing the so-called "final status issues". Today it is very clear: Israel explicitly rejects a Palestinian state and so refuses to return land; refuses to accept a divided Jerusalem; and refuses to accept the legitimate return of the refugees. It only talks about improving the situation of the PA (or to be more precise, the living conditions of the Palestinians) in the same areas in which they are already located, about a third of the occupied West Bank, with the possibility of a limited amount of expansion into parts of Areas B and C, according to the Oslo classifications.
This is the second aspect of the liquidation project; a clear end goal through unambiguous official statements. The official Arab role is also clear, especially that of the main axes. What is required is to expand the normalisation process in return for improving the PA's status and pacifying the Gaza Strip. This will lead ultimately to making Israel's presence in the region entirely "natural", and extensive partnerships can be established on every level.
It is necessary to point out here that the most important liquidation project after the Oslo Accords was addressed by the Alexandria Summit attended by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria in the mid-1990s. This was after everyone realised that what was needed was Israel's penetration and domination over the region.
This is precisely where disaster lies. Egypt can lead on the response to the new wave of normalisation, while Saudi Arabia is drowning in its self-inflicted problems in Yemen. Neither, though, can do anything to stop the normalisation process because they gave their blessing to the so-called Abraham Accords last year. Nor can Syria, which has its own problems, including heavy involvement by Vladimir Putin, a good friend of Israel. Moreover, Arab money is financing the process as Syria under Bashar Al-Assad heads for regional and international rehabilitation.
The most important aspect in thwarting the eradication project after the Oslo Accords and Wadi Arabi Treaty with Jordan is not the official Arab position, but the Palestinian position. More specifically through the Aqsa Intifada (2000-2005), which buried the normalisation path. The entire project was written off at the time.
This happened when Yasser Arafat sided with the uprising, which united the Palestinian people and exhausted the occupiers. It is true that the intifada ended with the invasion of the West Bank, the siege of Ramallah and the assassination of Arafat. And that the Arab states produced the Arab Initiative in Beirut following a clear blackmail operation after the September 2001 attacks in the US. Later, the Zionists relied on the occupation of Iraq to reshape the region, which also failed.
The major catastrophe is that, rather than Arafat who took risks, we now have Mahmoud Abbas, who stood against the Palestinian consensus during the Aqsa Intifada and plotted against Arafat. Instead of a Fatah which was not completely on the normalisation path, and security agencies with personnel having national affiliations, we now have a new Fatah tainted by Abbas, and "new Palestinian" security agencies — the term was coined by their founder, US General Keith W Dayton — operating "sacred" (as Abbas called it) security coordination with the occupation.
The bright side is the relative freedom of the Gaza Strip and the presence of a resistance base there, but with no West Bank on the horizon ready to join a new intifada because of the presence of Abbas (or his almost certainly like-minded successor) it will be difficult for Gaza to act alone, or even for the resistance groups to meet the needs of the residents.
The only solution to thwart the eradication project is the agreement of the resistance forces, led by Hamas, to adopt a new path that marginalises Abbas and to reconsider their operations in the West Bank so that they learn from past failures. This year's Jerusalem Intifada showed us the way forward.
The resistance must also use Israel's Judaisation processes as a rallying call for an uprising, at which point the eradication project will be buried. This will be a great opportunity for it to be a stepping stone towards a broader uprising to end the occupation of the territories occupied since 1967, the first step on the way to dismantling the entire Zionist project.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Arabi21 on 30 October 2021
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.