Palestine Update 397
UAE deals Palestinians a stab-in-the-back
Aug. 13, 2020 will be remembered by Palestinians as another Naksa, or “setback.” This is the term used by Arabs to refer to Israel’s stunning military victory in 1967, in which it took control of the Palestinian-inhabited West Bank and Gaza Strip, along with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Syria’s Golan Heights. Much like the Arab defeat of 1967, the agreement signed yesterday by Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), in which the two countries agreed to a “full normalization of relations” in return for Israel suspending moves to formally annex parts of the West Bank, has reminded the Palestinians that they cannot count on the Arab states to deliver their freedom or safeguard their rights.
The UAE is not the first Arab state to use the Palestinians as a fig leaf for its dealings with Israel, and in reality the de facto annexation of West Bank territory has been happening for many decades and could have been avoided easily with a decision in Washington or Jerusalem.
The agreement put a halt on Israel’s plans to annex parts of the Israeli occupied West Bank, but instead of increasing stability and peace in the region, Palestinian officials say the deal has further undermined them. “I never expected this poison dagger to come from an Arab country,” veteran negotiator, Saeb Erekat said. “You are rewarding aggression…You have destroyed, with this move, any possibility of peace between Palestinians and Israelis,” he added, speaking to the UAE.
Friedman thinks that the Israel-UAE consular agreement is a “geopolitical earthquake that just hit the Mideast” whose effects should be felt throughout the region.
Arab, Palestinian Intellectuals Announce Cultural Boycott of UAE
In a protest move against an agreement to normalize relations reached between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) reached on Thursday, several Arab and Palestinian intellectuals announced today their boycott of cultural and award events planned in the UAE.
Moroccan novelist, Al Zahra Rmeij, announced in a tweet her withdrawal from the Sheikh Zayed Book Award by withdrawing her nomination for the novel “The Waiting Hall” in solidarity with the Palestinian people “in their struggle to regain their usurped land and establish their free and independent state.” Moroccan novelist Abu Yousef Taha has also announced his withdrawal from the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for the same reasons.
Poet and writer Ahmed Abu Salim also announced in a tweet the withdrawal of the nomination of his novel “Promethana” for the Booker Prize, and his boycott of all cultural activities in the UAE, calling on all Arab intellectuals to follow suit. Palestinian photographer Muhammad Badarneh announced that he had withdrawn his participation from the exhibition “Point of View 8”, to be held on August 29 in the UAE.
The agreement is considered a severe blow to Palestinian efforts aimed at isolating Israel regionally and internationally until it ends its military occupation and apartheid-like system in occupied Palestine. “The UAE has come out in the open on its secret dealings/normalization with Israel. Please don’t do us a favor. We are nobody’s fig leaf!” senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement.
The agreement reached between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the UAE – that Israel would delay the annexation of further parts of the West Bank as part of an effort to normalize Middle East relations – does not mean very much at all. The agreement was announced with much fanfare by US President Donald Trump; Netanyahu has however made it clear that Israel will never give up the right to what it calls a historic homeland of the Jewish people. In this sense, the agreement really takes us nowhere at all and has been quickly condemned by Iran, Hamas, the leaders who control the Gaza Strip and several countries in the region. However, the UAE and Egypt have praised the US-brokered deal which they say will help bring peace in the region.
Peace in the Middle East has been elusive since Israel was created some 70 years ago. At least three wars have been fought over control of the territory, with Israel increasing its settlements in areas reserved for Palestinians over the years. The latest deal came as a surprise, with Hamas noting that Israel is in fact being rewarded for its crime and its acts of violence. US allies including the UK, a country which was instrumental in setting up Israel, have praised the agreement. The praise from Egypt, a country which has played an active role in the dispute between Arabs and Israel and in 1979 helped broker the first-ever peace treaty between the Zionist state and the Arab nation is more surprising.
Netanyahu’s assertion that Israel in no way gives up its claim over areas of the West Bank suggests the deal has little meaning. The region for now remains more polarized than ever before. If any kind of lasting settlement is to be found in the near future it will need much more flexibility on the part of Israel and its powerful allies. For now, there is no evidence that Netanyahu, a hardliner, is ready to make any concessions. The delay in taking over West Bank territories simply moves the time-frame for an agreement in the Middle East a little further back but does nothing to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The suffering of the Palestinians, squeezed into a tighter and tighter space in their own land has continued now for decades. Their children have been killed, treated worse than animals in their own land. And all this has been done by a brutal occupying force. The plan drawn up is not one that will change anything in the region. For now, Palestinian residents face continuing discrimination, relentless violence and no legal protections.
Irish Times on the Israel-UAE deal: Normalizing the occupation
Donald Trump badly needs a foreign policy success to burnish his “dealmaker” re-election credentials. On Thursday he appeared to get one in an agreement which the US helped broker between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalize their relations in exchange for a promise by the former not to proceed with its plans to annex large parts of the Palestinian Occupied Territories. Palestinian leaders were not impressed, however, by what many saw as a stab in the back and a tacit recognition of Jerusalem, the contested holy city, as Israel’s capital – a return to the unacceptable status quo ante pre-annexation talk.
What might appear to be a setback to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s ambitions was, however, quite a coup for the latter. The annexation plans, strongly supported by right-wing settlers, had provoked an international backlash that promised the country’s further isolation and even sanctions if carried out. Thursday’s agreement allows Netanyahu to save face in backing away from the idea by insisting it is necessary to achieve his long-promised priority of improving relations with Arab neighbours who were once sworn enemies. The UAE, for some time a staunch ally of the Trump administration, joins Jordan and Egypt in having formal diplomatic relations with Israel, and will soon add direct flights and a range of economic ties.
The deal would, however, appear to defy the common position of the wider Arab League which insists that Arab governments would only establish normal relations with Israel if it withdrew from the territories and accepted the establishment of a Palestinian state. But Arab solidarity on Palestine has waned. By the time Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, rolled out his deeply disappointing plan, doubts about the viability of a two-state solution have been widely manifest. Other priorities emerged. A politically weakened Palestinian community is facing a paradigm shift expressed clearly in the UAE deal – that it can no longer rely on old allies to put its case at the top of their agenda.
Trump wants Jewish votes, UAE wants US arms, Israel wants Palestinian lands
The Kushner Diversified Companies LLC, an American real estate developer in New York City Metropolitan Area and New Jersey, wants a piece of the so-called “deal of the century” in the form of business opportunities in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. Kushner Diversified is owned and operated by U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s father, who was convicted of illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion and witness tampering. Jared’s wife, Ivanka Trump, touted her father’s announcement of the first step of the deal, the Israeli-UAE embassy accord, with this ingeniously epigrammatic quotation from New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman:
“The UAE and Israel and the U.S. on Thursday showed – at least for one brief shining moment – that the past does not always have to bury the future that the haters and dividers don’t always have to win.” The current family running the union of the seven small emirates is actually no stranger to the Israeli occupation of Arab lands. The House of Al Nohayan strongly opposed the Wahhabis in neighboring Saudi Arabia but following a breakdown of authority, the usurpers of power joined Arabs who conspired with the British in defeating the Ottomans in World War I that led to the British occupation of Palestine.
UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ), who signed the consular agreement with Israel, is not only the architect of the “deal of the century” but also the person who conspired to pick Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to lead the richest Arab country. MBZ thinks that MBS should cough up the money to buy Palestinians a deal with Israel. With MBS, he will build a strong joint Muslim army to control the Middle East. They are trying their hand in Yemen but unfortunately, they cannot get all the weapons they need from the United States because of congressional impediments. Now, no sane U.S. lawmaker would withhold arms from the person who normalized his country’s relations with Israel. Meanwhile, Netanyahu guarantees yet another election (a fourth in the last 12 months), as well as Trump who hopes to get the Jewish votes in November. The Kushner family is inching closer to the “real estate deal of the century” in the new Palestinian areas under Israeli occupation, which is not going to be annexed to Israel proper at least before November.
This is something Islamic nations are surely happy about. Right?
Activists in Manchester protest Israel’s latest annexation and occupation plans and repeated bombing of Gaza.
PRO-PALESTINE activists gathered in Manchester on Saturday to protest against Israel’s latest annexation and occupation plans and repeated bombing of Gaza. More than 30 activists turned out for a socially distanced protest at a busy road junction. They received support from scores of passing motorists who sounded their horns. The event was organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and Palestine Action.
Manchester PSC chairwoman Norma Turner said: “We are opposed to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. “The latest annexation is just a continued extension of occupation and siege. We will not stop until Palestine is free.” Palestine Action activist Adie Mormech said: “Gaza is being bombed again by Israel — for at least three days running this week — destroying agriculture, preventing fishing, blocking fuel reaching the hard-pressed people who are already without adequate water, sanitation, electricity, and all at a time of coronavirus.“We all know that Israel is guilty of war crimes – it is also guilty of crimes against health and humanity.”