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Arab League Failure to Condemn UAE Enrages Palestinians
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) is shown in Cairo in February as he speaks with Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit on the sidelines of an emergency session. (Khaled Desouki/AFP via Getty Images)

Arab League Failure to Condemn UAE Enrages Palestinians

Angry and disappointed, PA officials call it ‘triumph of money over dignity’

Palestinian officials are infuriated by Wednesday’s Arab League rejection of a draft resolution condemning the normalization agreement reached between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

The resolution had been written by Palestinian officials.

Fatah Central Committee member Hussein al-Sheikh described the move as “the triumph of money over dignity.”

In a tweet, the senior Fatah leader unleashed his criticism of what he characterized as the powerlessness of the Arabs in failing to denounce the agreement.

“The Arab League has not produced anything. It has given the entire region condemnations of everyone ad nauseam − except for Israel. This is a thunderous collapse, the use of ‘national sovereignty’ to justify subservience,” Sheikh wrote.

The Arab League has not produced anything. It has given the entire region condemnations of everyone ad nauseam − except for Israel. This is a thunderous collapse, the use of ‘national sovereignty’ to justify subservience

Last month, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, angry with Abu Dhabi’s decision, called its step to normalize relations with Israel a “betrayal.”

The inability to reach a consensus on the UAE is a huge blow to the efforts of Palestinians, who have been hoping to forge a united Arab position in the face of other countries still on the fence about normalizing ties with Israel.

Some argue, however, that it has not been a total loss for the Palestinians.

In a statement, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud reiterated his country’s position backing the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative while avoiding any mention of the UAE-Israel accord.

The initiative calls for normalization with Israel only when it leaves all territories captured in 1967 and the Palestinians have established a state, with its capital in Jerusalem.

The Palestinians have called on Arab countries to continue supporting the initiative, which was introduced by Riyadh.

Nour Odeh, a Palestinian political analyst in the West Bank, told The Media Line that the setback in the Arab League did not signal an end to the initiative.

Saudi Arabia, she explained, still carries major weight in the Arab and Muslim world and to hear that “it’s still committed to that initiative, and still committed to normalizing with Israel only when it ends the occupation, I think there is an important message.”

The failure to persuade the Arab League to condemn Abu Dhabi has devastating implications for the PA and Abbas, who has invested greatly in the diplomatic front, relying heavily on the Arab and international communities.

“I think the implications are two-fold,” Odeh said.

“On the one hand, the facade of solidarity among Arab regimes has been shot dead. And it was a moment of truth, I think, for all involved, not just for the UAE, so the Arab public now understands where the balance of power is and the contrast to the usual rhetoric,” she stated.

The facade of solidarity among Arab regimes has been shot dead

She adds that there is a disconnect between official Arab support for the Palestinian cause and that in the Arab street.

“The Arab public is very clear on where it stands as far as supporting Palestinian rights, as far as opposing Israeli occupation and as far as opposing these free gifts to Israel in exchange for its impunity,” she said, arguing that the shift in the official Arab position is the result of pressure from Washington.

“What you hear is the official position of Arab governments, most of which are trying to stay afloat and alive, and trying to appease [US President] Donald Trump through deals with Israel or through cozying up to Israel or by adhering to the stronger states in the region to stay solvent,” Odeh said.

What you hear is the official position of Arab governments, most of which are trying to stay afloat and alive, and trying to appease [US President] Donald Trump through deals with Israel or through cozying up to Israel or by adhering to the stronger states in the region to stay solvent

Ghassan Khatib, a political science lecturer at Birzeit University in the West Bank, wishes to downplay the latest developments.

“The Arab countries are at their lowest point since independence. Many… are suffering from ongoing upheaval, civil wars and instabilities that have weakened their ability to support the Palestinian cause,” he told The Media Line.

The Arab countries are at their lowest point since independence. Many… are suffering from ongoing upheaval, civil wars and instabilities that have weakened their ability to support the Palestinian cause

The UAE’s step, he said, was not a “dramatic development,” as many are trying to portray it.

“There have been differences in positions with a minority of countries in the Arab world, but this never affected the fact that most of the Arab people and the Arab governments support the Palestinians’ desire for independence and statehood on the basis of international legality, and on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative,” Khatib said.

Getting their draft resolution passed was a tall order for the Palestinians, as several Arab states − such as Egypt and Bahrain − have expressed public or tacit support for normalization between the UAE and Israel.

When the deal was announced at the White House on August 13, the Palestinians called for an emergency meeting of the Arab League but were told to wait for Wednesday’s regularly scheduled session of the Cairo-based, pan-Arab body.

Daoud Kuttab, a prominent Amman-based Palestinian journalist, writer and analyst, told The Media Line that the Arab League is only as “strong as its members.

“I think it is difficult for the Arab League at this time to take a position against one of its members, but what they tried to do is reiterate support for Palestinian independence,” he stated.

“There is no doubt,” Kuttab continued, “that the Arab Peace Plan has lost its initial gravitas, but this is a reaction to the general deterioration of Arab unity in general, and not necessarily a reflection only on Palestinians and Mahmoud Abbas.”

There is no doubt that the Arab Peace Plan has lost its initial gravitas, but this is a reaction to the general deterioration of Arab unity in general, and not necessarily a reflection only on Palestinians and Mahmoud Abbas

In an interview with The Media Line last month, Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator and secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, said the head of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, should resign for failing to respond to the Palestinian request for an emergency meeting, adding that the organization had become “irrelevant” and a “tool” of wealthy Arab states.

Khatib says the future of Palestinian foreign policy depends heavily on the outcome of November’s US presidential election.

“If Trump is elected again, the Palestinian people and leadership must revise their strategy and draw the necessary lessons from the last few years,” he said. “If he is not reelected, then maybe the United States will once again place its confidence in international order and international legality.”

Did you know we’re celebrating our 20th Anniversary as the 1st American News Agency exclusively covering the Middle East?

  • The Middle East landscape is changing rapidly.
  • The roads in the region open to new possibilities.
  • The Media Line continues to pave the way to a far greater understanding of the region’s land, people, policies and governments through our trusted, fact-based news.

We’re an independent, ad-free, non-profit news agency and rely on friends like you!

Please make your gift today as we have a most generous matching 2:1 grant.
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We’re an independent, ad-free, non-profit news agency and rely on friends like you!

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