The biggest losers

A lot has happened since the Khartoum declaration, way back on September 1st, 1967, when the Arab League, led by Egypt, declared the “Three NO’s” – No peace with Israel, No recognition of Israel, and No negotiations with Israel. It seems that this declaration is now completely irrelevant these days.

The Palestinian issue has always served as a rallying point for the Arab World, dating back to as a far the times of the British Mandate, to as recent as the 2014 Israel-Hamas War.  But nowadays, it seems like the interests have shifted, and bigger considerations & interests, along with the geopolitical changes has turned the Palestinian cause into a non-issue for the Gulf states and other Muslim majority states in the Middle East and in Africa. One must ask, despite these geopolitical changes, how did the Palestinian cause, a central rallying point for the Arab World, get to the point where they have completely sidelined from the Israeli-Arab “Abraham Accords” signing ceremony?

In reference to Abba Eban’s famous quote “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” it seems like the Palestinian leadership once again missed the train.

Therefore, on Tuesday, while President Trump is hosting the normalization accords ceremony between the state of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu-Mazen), President of the Palestinian Authority, will be in Ramallah blaming his Arab brothers for throwing the Palestinians under the bus.

But one must say that Abbas could have handled the political stalemate with Israel differently, and this could have shifted the Palestinians destiny.

Most people didn’t buy President Trump’s Deal of the century. Benjamin Netanyahu saw it as a great opportunity to waste time instead of figuring out a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as he has no real intention to really negotiate with the Palestinians and change the status queue.

While breaking the rules, is a strategy that never worked for the Palestinians, providing a counter-proposal or at least presenting some alternative to the Trump peace plan could have resulted in causing some embarrassment for Netanyahu, giving Abbas the temporary upper hand.

But Abbas resorting to saying “NO” without offering any alternatives a long-time failed strategy of the Palestinians. Instead of working on planning and building their future-state infrastructure they are always busy with corruption and bribery, using international financial support to invest in negative elements (Such as building the tunnels in Gaza instead of rebuilding the city), and providing poor education and social services to their people.

The lack of leadership on the part of the Palestinians is a part of their victimhood. This cannot go on. The Palestinians are victims of their own poor leadership which don’t really try to figure out a way to break their lose-lose situation with Israel.

The Arab states are no longer holding the Palestinian problem as a weight against Israel.  Rather, the Arab states are now starting to put their own interests first. At this point in time, the advantages of normalizing the relationship with Israel are worth a lot more economic, technological, and security standpoint for the Persian Gulf Sunni states who are concerned about the rising power of the Shiite and soon to maybe Nuclear Iran. The Sunni Gulf states have more shared interests with Israel than ever before.

Bibi is not a partner for the two-state solution and he doesn’t need to be because he understands that both Mahmoud Abas (Abu-Mazen) in the West Bank and the Hamas regime in Gaza are mainly looking to grow their personal wealth and power, and not to improve the lives of their own people.

But Imagine a world where Abu-Mazen actually embraces the deal of the century, leaving both Netanyahu & Trump speechless. He can still say, we accept the concept and would like to set negotiations. What can Netanyahu say then? He will be forced to sit with the Palestinians, and maybe have to compromise for something.  However, at the end of the day, Bibi knows he can always count on the Palestinian’s automatic negative approach to preventing the need to head to the negotiating table in the first place.

But in the long term, Israel will not be able to keep ignoring the demographic challenge it faces, and Israel will have to face the Palestinian demand for self-determination.  Things may shift for the Palestinians in the future, but so far, they have proved to be the biggest losers that everybody is tired of. If they want momentum shift in their favor, then they will need to shift their strategies, and become a player, and not just be the ones refusing to play.

About the Author
Yaakov (Kobi) Cohen is an Israeli-American, born in Jerusalem and now reside to New York City where he works in a Jewish Non-for-Profit. As a political activist, Cohen is most interested in the Israeli-American Jewish relationship and its impact on the future of the Jewish world and seeking to build bridges between Israelis & Jewish Americans, or at least establish a different dialogue. Kobi is a co-founder of Israel Shelanu and Host of BALAGAN - Explaining Israeli Politics Podcast
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