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The Palestinians Deserve a New Leadership

Al-Arab, London, September 19

Many around me have criticized the decision made by some Arab states to normalize their relations with Israel. But the truth is that, whether you like it or not, these normalization agreements have only strengthened and empowered those who pursued them. In fact, the voices criticizing the UAE and Bahrain for their recent agreements with Israel are the very same voices that criticized the Egyptians for reaching a peace deal with Israel. When former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat decided to enter negotiations with Israel, he did so because he realized that the time for war had passed and that a new approach – that of diplomacy – was needed. Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership has failed to reach the same conclusion. Everything surrounding the Palestinian issue has changed. Geopolitical developments in the region managed to reshuffle the old Middle East politics and create new alliances in the region. The Oslo Accords marked the end of the Arab world’s wars with Israel. Unfortunately, in the entire time that has passed since, the Palestinians failed to establish an independent state of their own. They failed not because of an armed struggle but because the Palestinian political elite simply didn’t want to achieve statehood. Fighting for statehood, instead of actually fulfilling that goal, allowed the Palestinian leadership to continue selling the narrative of an armed struggle while practicing corruption and bribery behind closed doors. The Palestinian leadership must understand that Arab leaders have grown tired of this conflict. They have grown tired of the Palestinian Authority lying to its people and failing to represent their interests. Therefore, they put the Palestinian issue aside and began developing and pursuing policies that promote their own well-being. It’s time for the Palestinians to search for new solutions and actively work to reach a lasting peace with Israel; we’ve had enough of them playing the role of the passive observer waiting for his own fate to be determined by others. – Farouk Youssef (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)