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Agreements With Israel Are Doomed To Fail

Al-Araby al-Jadeed, London, September 25

Recently revealed documents shine a fascinating light on the process leading up the signing of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, which left a deep mark on subsequent negotiations in the region, particularly Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. When Egyptian President Gamal Abd al-Naser considered signing a deal with the Israelis he wasn’t opposed to ending his country’s war with its neighbor. What he demanded, however, was that Israel withdraw from all of the territories it occupied, including the Palestinian ones. Unlike Nasser, Sadat was less resolute. He sought to deepen his country’s relations with the United States and therefore rushed to accept a deal with Israel. Unlike his predecessor, Sadat did not insist on liberating all of Palestine. He even worked to get other Arab countries on board, but they were hesitant to join his efforts. Perhaps most surprising was the position of the Palestinian leadership, which actually supported Sadat’s initiative to sign a deal with Israel, but later, after facing threats from other Arab states, reversed course. The direct result was the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, as we know it today; the indirect result was internal division in the Arab world. Had all Arab states, including the Palestinians, negotiated with Israel together, as one unified front, the Israelis would have been forced to make far-reaching concessions. But because each Arab state negotiated alone, none of them succeeded in gaining the important achievements the Palestinians so desperately needed. Israel was able to divide and conquer its enemies. It is this exact division that bred terrible agreements—the Madrid Conference, the Oslo Accords, the Wye River Memorandum—that contributed to nothing but the further weakening of the Palestinian cause. Each round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations only forced the Palestinians to make more and more concessions to Israel, while demanding nothing in exchange. One might have thought that the Arabs learned their lesson from the Egyptian experience, realizing that jumping into rash deals is a terrible idea. But Arab leaders today are openly calling for the normalization of ties with Tel Aviv and the establishment of full-fledged diplomatic relations with Israel. Not only have we failed to learn our lesson, we are acting in direct contradiction to our political interests. This movement to sign a deal with Israel is even more desperate than it was during Sadat’s era. If these numerous agreements failed at achieving Palestinian statehood, no modern-day agreement ever will. –Sameh Rasheed

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