Since the normalisation train set off from Abu Dhabi, nearly two years ago, it has run over everything that hinders it, including the natural terrain that it cannot pass, of which it will not be able to reach the end. Those in charge or controlling it are ignorant of the civilisation and heritage of the Arab people, and think that they can uproot it and steer over its ruins. They ignore the fact that the people have deep roots and can easily hinder the normalisation train and even send it back to where it came from.
Normalisation began with “peace treaties” between Israel and Egypt, Jordan and the Palestine Liberation Organisation, since when the apartheid state has been trying hard to turn regional hostility into friendship and cooperation. It has also been trying to create a veneer of decency to cover its ugly reality as a brutal colonial-occupation and terrorist entity whose goal has been clear from the beginning. Now it seeks more than diplomatic relations with the normalisation countries, and wants to turn agreements with regimes into links with the people. However, it has failed to do so. Instead, there remains a solid barrier between Israel and the Arab people, to whom it is still the enemy that is stealing the land of Palestine. Hence the use of the term “cold peace”.
The UAE tried to remove this impediment through the Abraham Accords and by signing more military, economic, culture and sports agreements with Israel. There have been exchange visits involving officials from both countries, and Abu Dhabi has hosted Israeli sports teams. It even went as far as trying to rewrite history with television dramas portraying Palestinians as hard-hearted and Israelis as meek and wanting to live in peace with their Palestinian neighbours, who are hostile and plotting against them.
Normalisation has now brought us to a shameful scene in the Negev desert. For the first time in history, the foreign ministers from Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco met with their Israeli and American counterparts in occupied Palestine, for what they called the Negev Summit. They claimed that the aim was to strengthen normalised relations and cooperation between the Arab countries and Israel; their arrogance stretched to them claiming that they wanted to display the unity between them in the face of Iran. This summit of shame held on usurped Palestinian land brought together the occupying enemy which sheds the blood of the Palestinian people on a daily basis, with Arab regimes ready and willing to ignore the ugly reality on the ground.
Israel’s far-right Foreign Minister Yair Lapid wanted to show off his country’s success in reaching four Arab capitals, bypassing all Palestinian objections and his state’s obligations towards the people under occupation, including their rights legitimised by the international community.US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his overwhelming joy at this summit, which not even the ultra-normalisers themselves could have envisaged not so long ago. Meanwhile, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed expressed his regret for the “43-year delay” in close relations between his country and Israel.
What we have now is a kind of Zionist-Arab-American equivalent of NATO, which former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo promoted during the Trump era. He toured the region and called for an Arab-Israeli alliance against Iran, dubbed by the media as the “Middle East NATO”. This was intended to revive the “new Middle East project” announced by the then Israeli Prime Minister, Shimon Peres, in the 1990s. The “Negev NATO” is expected to suffer the same fate for the simple reason that it is impossible to bypass the Palestinian issue in any regional agreement.
Nevertheless, the Israeli media viewed the summit of shame as a great victory in the hope that more Arab countries will jump on the normalisation gravy train (let’s be in no doubt that there will be financial incentives somewhere along the line). However, the celebratory drinks party, in which an Israeli singer was to sing “Hallelujah” in English, Hebrew and Arabic, was dealt an unexpected blow when a young man from the occupied Palestinian territories shot and killed two Israeli occupation soldiers. This came just four days after an attack in occupied Beersheba in which four Israelis were killed, and the Bnei Brak attack east of Tel Aviv, resulting in the death of five Israeli settlers.
These attacks sent clear messages to Israel that normalisation with the leaders of Arab countries will not change anything, and that Israel will always be an occupying state. They also sent the message that Israel and its illegal settlers will never enjoy the land that they have stolen, even if it adds a new occupation of the Arab region to its occupation of Palestine. Legitimate resistance has the moral high ground and will inevitably defeat the shame and disgrace of subordination to a brutal military occupation state. The Palestinian cause is in the heart of every Arab and will never die, no matter how many decades go by, and despite its abandonment by Arab regimes.
The reality on the ground has nothing to do with what happens behind closed doors in summits of shame. The reality is not what the media reports or what the treacherous hands write in the context of agreements. The reality is that Arab “leaders” are a minority and do not represent the Arab people who hold Palestine in their hearts. Resistance to the brutality of occupation is what really represents the people. The reality is what the heroes of Palestine write with their blood on the land; that the resistance will continue until Palestine is liberated from Israeli occupation from the river to the sea. As the late Palestinian poet Tawfiq Ziad said, “We shall remain like a wall upon your chest, and in your throat like a shard of glass, a cactus thorn, and in your eyes a sandstorm of fire.”
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.