Analyzing the Palestinian’s reaction to the “Abraham Accords”

Notice: This article was created prior to The Palestinian Authority’s re-rapprochement of Israel.

On September 15th, 2020 Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) agreed to normalize relations. The new ties between them include cooperation on intelligence work in the region, tourism, and investing in Israel’s sophisticated tech-industry. Most importantly, Israel has agreed to suspend the annexation of the West Bank and Jordan Valley in exchange for peace.  Conversely, the Palestinian leadership has been steadfast in their rejection of such developments between the Gulf states and Israel. This brief sample seeks to analyze the reactions from Palestinian factions, their growing relations with Iran and Turkey, and the future of Palestinian-Israeli relations.

Palestinian Officials Miss the Mark

Palestinian leadership interprets UAE’s normalization with Israel as an act of betrayal. Before the Abraham Accords’ official signing, Fatah began advocating for Palestinians to reject this newfound peace. Fatah Central Committee Secretary, Jibril Rajoub, stated that “all the possibilities of resistance against the occupation” are on the table.[1] This likely indicates that Fatah and Hamas may resort to extreme means if they believe it suits their cause. In late July 2020, Palestinian Liberation Organization Executive Committee Member Wasel Abu Yusuf echoed Rajoub’s sentiments, telling Palestinian Authority TV, a West Bank news outlet, that a “comprehensive intifada” is being planned against Israel.[2]

After the finalization of the Accords, Imams in the West Bank were instructed by the Palestinian Authority to denounce UAE’s peace with the Israeli’s. Surah’s from the Quran projected through speakers in Ramallah as a symbol of frustration and defiance. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly declared that “normalization with the Zionist entity is high treason against Palestine.” [3]Abbas’s comments illustrate the failure of Palestinian leaders to recognize that the Arab world has grown weary of their rejectionism. There is no benefit in promoting religious violence and harboring ill will towards Israel. The rest of the Middle East wants to set aside hatred and embrace peace. The Palestinian leadership must normalize their relations with Israel if they wish to obtain statehood. Instead, it seems Palestinian leaders have focused more on courting traditional Israeli antagonists to bolster their own position.

Hamas, Turkey, and Iran: The Axis against Peace.

As it pertains to Turkey, there is a growing fear within Israel regarding Istanbul’s growing relations with Hamas and the PLO. Tika, the official Turkish government aid agency, donated money and food to Palestinians in East Jerusalem. According to Yossi Melman from the Middle East Eye, Israel believes that the Turkish government’s humanitarian efforts are merely a façade. Tel Aviv believes that Turkey may have greater ambitions by expanding its influence in Palestinian territories. The Palestinian’s have graciously accepted these donations and believe that they can use Turkey as a proxy to counter Israel in the West Bank, and vice-versa.

Furthermore, according to the Shin Bet, ex-Hamas commander Salah al-Aruri has established operations in Turkey. [4]Members of the Israeli intelligence community believe al-Aruri coordinated terror attacks against Israel from Istanbul. Furthermore, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan courted Fatah-Hamas reconciliation talks with high ranking members of each respective party. Erdogan also expressed a willingness to help unite their fractured government. However, the Palestinian’s current political engagement with Turkey could strain their relationship with traditional Arab allies. Thus, making it unlikely they receive support from them on critical issues in the future.

In addition to Turkey’s support of Hamas, Iran publicly declared they are providing weapons and financial support to the terror group in their “jihad” against Israel.[5]  As more Arab and Gulf states embrace warmer relations with Israel, the Palestinian leadership is keen on fortifying their relationship with Turkey and Iran to enhance their military capabilities against Israel. Such reactions from the Palestinians are dangerous. It promotes sectarian violence in the region and threatens to destabilize the Middle East.

Conclusion: What does the future hold?

The next several months will reveal how much hope remains for a two-state solution. President Trump expressed a willingness to negotiate with the Palestinians. It is reported by various sources within the U.S Intelligence community that President Trump told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to annex parts of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley. According to the Emarti government, one of the stipulations laid out for normalizing relations with Israel was an immediate halt on annexation[6]. Despite his reluctance, Netanyahu’s discretion helped usher in a new era of Middle Eastern peace. However, the Palestinian’s find themselves on the wrong side of history. Their relationship with Turkey and increasing terror support from Iran indicate they are not interested in renewing peace talks with Israel. If Iran-Turkish-Hamas relations continue on its current trajectory, Israel and other Arab nations will be less inclined to support a future Palestinian state. To conclude, President Abbas and the Palestinians must alter their approach of isolationism and rejection and embrace a greater peace.

I am a former student at Michigan State University, my research focuses on Palestinian politics and Israeli-Palestinian relations.

[1] Donna Edmunds, ‘Senior Fatah Figure Urges Violence in Wake of UAE-Israel Peace Deal’ The Jerusalem Post https://www.jpost.com/arab-israeli-conflict/senior-fatah-figure-urges-violence-in-wake-of-uae-israel-peace-deal-640648. (Accessed 15 September 2020).

[2] Donna Edmunds, ‘Senior Fatah Figure Urges Violence in Wake of UAE-Israel Peace Deal’ The Jerusalem Post https://www.jpost.com/arab-israeli-conflict/senior-fatah-figure-urges-violence-in-wake-of-uae-israel-peace-deal-640648. (Accessed 15 September 2020).

[3] Donna Edmunds, ‘Mosques Instruct Palestinians to Reject Peace Deals as World Celebrates’ The Jerusalem Post https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/mosques-instruct-palestinians-to-reject-peace-deal-as-world-celebrates-642677

 (Accessed 20 September 2020)

[4] Yossi Melman ‘How Israel began Seeing Turkey as a Threat Instead of a Partner’ Middle East Eye. https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/how-israel-began-seeing-turkey-threat-instead-partner

(Accessed 13 September 2020).

[5]  Parisa Hafezi ‘Iran Lauds Arms Supply to Palestinians Against ‘Tumor’ Israel. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-israel-khamenei/iran-lauds-arms-supply-to-palestinians-against-tumor-israel-idUSKBN22Y10L

(Accessed 17 September 2020).

[6] Steven Cook ‘What’s behind the New Israel-UAE Peace Deal?’ Council on Foreign Relations.

https://www.cfr.org/in-brief/whats-behind-new-israel-uae-peace-deal

(Accessed 10 Sep 2020).

About the Author
My name is Abdelhalim Abdelrahman. I am a Palestinian American who was born and raised in Taylor, Michigan in the United States. In 2019, I graduated from Michigan State University with a dual degree in International Relations and Political Theory of Constitutional Democracy. I am a former Constituent Relations Director at the U.S Michigan House of Representatives.
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