Betrayal of justice – Indo Palestine Solidarity censures normalization of Arab nations with Israel

By Ranjan Solomon*


Majority of Arab Social Media Users See 
Normalization With Israel as 'Treason'

The decision of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and Sudan to normalize relations with Israel came as no surprise to those who are keen observers of Israel’s designs in the Gulf region. It lay bare what has been clear to Palestinians for decades: Israel’s illegal acts of annexation and apartheid will not deter those countries who have selfish interests from the pursuit of their interests, regardless of whether they are joining hands with the region’s most oppressive and fascist country.  Nor do they care that their normalization will only add more damnation, and heightened violation of human rights to the Palestinians.

UAE and Bahrain are signatories to agreements which have legal responsibilities as third States under international law to take effective action to oppose Israel’s illegal settler-colonial enterprise and other unlawful acts. They have, instead, opted to act in contravention of these responsibilities and embrace inexcusable violations of international law and human rights in the name of geopolitical expediency.

UAE and Bahrain are signatories to agreements which have legal responsibilities as third States under international law to take effective action to oppose Israel’s illegal settler-colonial enterprise and other unlawful acts. They have, instead, opted to act in contravention of these responsibilities and embrace inexcusable violations of international law and human rights in the name of geopolitical expediency.

UAE normalizes for profit not principle
Emirati support for the struggle against Israeli colonialism, annexationist-aggression and apartheid was ultimately downed by the magnetism of the profitable partnership between the UAE and Israel’s private sectors. Defense, cyber security, and infrastructure corporations have for years made billions in revenue as Emirate-based multinationals in Israel, and vice versa. Exports from Israel to the UAE stand to rise up to $500 million USD annually, whereas UAE investment in Israel may reach an annual $350 million USD.  Similarly, conversations have taken place at the highest political level between Israeli and Bahraini officials. Economic benefit and “peace in the region” is thus the fig leaf for the abandonment and betrayal of the Palestinian people offered by American, Emirati, and Bahraini proponents of normalization.

Bahrain’s need to suppress political dissent prompts their deal
Twenty-six years after Bahrain welcomed an Israeli delegation for the first time, the small Gulf archipelago became the second Arab country to agree to normalize its relationship with Israel. Ever since US President Donald Trump announced on August 13 that the United Arab Emirates and Israel had agreed to establish diplomatic ties, there had been rife speculation that Bahrain would be next. Bahrain first declared two months ago that it was committed to the creation of a Palestinian state. But it was common knowledge that the island state was always likely to follow the UAE once the taboo had been broken. Home to the US Navy’s regional headquarters and connected to Saudi Arabia by a 25km (16 miles) causeway, Bahrain in recent years seemed less reluctant to publicize its relations with Israel. In February 2017, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa met Jewish leaders in the United States and reportedly expressed opposition to the boycott of Israel by Arab countries.

In Tel Aviv, Sudanese migrants say Israel making peace with a rotten regime The Sudanese people who confront everyday economic hardship and food insecurity find it hard to stomach the political fact that Sudan has, as part of the deal, agreed to pay $335 million to compensate victims of the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and the 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole in exchange for the deal. Sudan’s people had little voice in the decisions of its abusive and authoritarian government during the long tenure of President Omar al-Bashir when the country had adopted terror ways. The Trump Administration’s linkage of SST delisting with its impulse for Sudan to normalize its relationship with Israel has only added to the discomfort of some who feel their hand has been forced on a litigious and unconnected issue.
Sudanese political parties have rejected the government’s decision to normalize relations with Israel, with officials saying they will form an opposition front against the agreement. Dozens of Sudanese people demonstrated in the capital Khartoum on Friday following the joint statement from Israel, Sudan and the United States on Friday saying that the two countries agreed to “end the state of belligerence between their nations”.

‘Saudi pressure
Saudi Arabia has so far signaled it is not ready to ‘normalize”. But people in the know, are aware that the recent deals would not have happened without Saudi support. After all, Bahrain’s political agenda is pretty much dictated by Saudi Arabia.

In late 2018, just months before Bahrain agreed to host a US-led conference to unveil the economic part of Trump’s so-called Middle East plan; Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait pledged $10bn in financial support for Bahrain to steady its finances. Besides being financially dependent on its neighbours, Bahrain’s new alliance with Israel may help it ingrain its power and squash any resistance to authoritarianism or efforts towards freedom and democracy. It is important to recall that in 2011, during the onset of the Arab Spring uprisings, Saudi Arabia sent troops to Bahrain to suppress anti-government protests. Many of those who rallied against the Bahraini monarch were from the country’s majority Shia populations who have long complained of repression. Bahrain assumes that joining the bandwagon led by the US will provide the Bahraini monarchy continued protection against its own people.

What should the international community’s response be?
It is critical that the international community intervenes to pressure the UAE and Bahrain to comply with their third State obligations towards Palestine and prevent aiding and abetting Israel in its continuing violation of peremptory norms of international law. It is now time, for the international community and the Palestinian people to collectively rise up and resist this egregious regional normalization, to ensure the realization of our people to self-determination and permanent sovereignty, and to prevent Israeli and regional measures towards the erasure of our people, culture, lands and home.

Palestinian aspiration is further shattered
This spate of normalization’ deals has done little to console the millions of Palestinians already living under de jure annexation in East Jerusalem, under de facto annexation in much of the West Bank, as refugees and exiles denied their right of return, or being treated as demographic threats and invaders within Israel’s borders. Whether American-backed de jure annexation comes now or in 2024, Palestinians will continue to be targeted with deadly force, will continue to watch their homes being demolished, will continue to be denied reunification with their families, will be denied the right to return to their homes and lands, and will be denied the dignity promised to them by an international rules-based order.

Restore 1967 is the Palestinian call
The Palestinian leadership wants an independent state based on the de facto borders before the 1967 war, in which Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and annexed East Jerusalem. Arab countries have long called for Israel’s withdrawal from already illegally occupied land, a just solution for Palestinian refugees and a settlement that leads to the establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian state in exchange for establishing ties with it.

In effect, the normalization of diplomatic and trade relations between the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Israel reveal a worrying and detrimental trend in regional State practice towards the acceptance and endorsement of Israel’s illegal acts against our people including, the closure and collective punishment of the Gaza Strip, enforcement of an apartheid regime over the Palestinian people as a whole, the annexation of our land, and the erasure of the Palestinian people. The shameful recognition of Israel’s illegal acts by both these States must be collectively opposed, by the international community, and the Palestinian people.

How can peace be based on veiled militaristic options?
For now it may seem something like a postscript. But a dimension that does not make too many headlines is that these deals can make the region far more militarized that it already is. UAE and Bahrain have bargained for sophisticated weaponry even against the disinclination of Israel. Sudan will receive weapons to put down the rebels. Israel would rather retain its absolute military supremacy over the entire region and circumvent parallel military forces which may be a threat to Israel in case Arab regimes at some point chose to confront Israel.

The Iran factor
In the meantime, the tensions with Iran will grow. Iran is seen as a threat to the region which is predominantly Shia in composition. Whereas, Iran is unique in the Muslim world because its population is overwhelmingly more Shia than Sunni (Shia constitute 95% of the population) and because its constitution is a theocratic republic based on rule by a Shia jurist. The so called normalization deals are also meant to build a coalition which will weaken Iran and strengthen the Suni coalition against Iran. What if Iran finally decides to actualize its nuclear capacities?

The Arab countries line up – The Palestinians lose their morale
One is watching keenly the outcome of the US elections which may prompt more countries to sign normalization deals with Israel. These include Oman, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia. In effect, they will become Israel’s allies no matter how strongly they claim that their deals will prevent a total annexation of Palestinian territory. The West bank is under de facto annexation. Sooner or later it will shift to de jure status and none of the countries which sign deals will be able to resists the decisions of Israel backed, as they will be, the US.

These developments have raised a number of important questions on the political scene in the Middle East. Does this diplomatic success for Israel mean that the Palestinian question has been completely marginalized in Arab politics? Have Palestinians lost their influence on the normalization of relations between Arab states and Israel? Will the countries that sign peace deals with Israel be able to sidestep the claims of Palestinians, the original holders of the cause, and come up with a “solution” to the Palestinian issue? Arab normalization of Israel is not only a betrayal of the Palestinian people, but a cruel and humiliating exacerbation of their suffering.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has recorded a notable escalation in Israeli attacks against Palestinians since the recent normalization agreements signed with Arab states. In a report, the PLO disclosed that it had recorded serious Israeli aggressions on Palestinians between 15 September, the date of signing the deals in Washington, and 15 October. The report found that Israel intensified expansion of its settlements, demolition of Palestinian homes, the killing and wounding of innocent people, carrying out raids and detention campaigns, and “systematic aggression” on religious institutions.

The PLO has indicated that the Israeli annexation of occupied Palestinian lands is continuous, adding that it is accompanied by settlers’ attacks on Palestinian citizens. According to the report, the Israeli occupation forces opened fire more than 240 times, killing two Palestinians, wounding more than 90 others, detaining more than 480 including children, and have demolished 25 homes and facilities. But the Palestinians are relentless: “…neither prison nor siege have ended the Palestinian struggle for freedom. Palestinians in Gaza, as elsewhere, are determined to claim their rights, no matter how high the price. The discussion touches on the stories of real Palestinians who have paid a high price for their resistance, in all of its forms.

 

References

  1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/09/11/80e6bf42-f451-11ea-999c-67ff7bf6a9d2_story.html
  2. https://thewire.in/world/trump-peace-plan-israel-palestine
  3. http://english.pnn.ps/2020/09/15/open-letter-uae-and-bahrains-normalisation-with-israel-incentivises-continued-colonisation-of-palestine/
  4. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/9/13/what-is-behind-bahrains-normalisation-deal-with-israel-2
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  6. https://www.ynetnews.com/article/rJwo5BW00D
  7. http://palestineupdates.com/israels-peace-deals-are-signed-in-blood/
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  10. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-51487712
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  12. https://www.timesofisrael.com/in-tel-aviv-sudanese-migrants-say-israel-making-peace-with-a-rotten-regime/
  13. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/10/24/sudans-political-parties-reject-israeli-normalisation-deal
  14. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/06/18/the-sunni-shia-divide-where-they-live-what-they-believe-and-how-they-view-each-other/
  15. https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20201024-plo-israel-attacks-escalate-after-normalisation-with-arab-states/
  16. https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20201024-plo-israel-attacks-escalate-after-normalisation-with-arab-states/

*Ranjan Solomon is editior of Palestine Updates. He has written extensively and has written and co-edited 11 books. He can be contacted at ranjan.solomon@gmail.com