Abba Eban, founding father of Jewish state diplomacy, is credited with saying that Palestinians "never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." The clever pun in the post-Yom Kippur ceasefire negotiations, which Israel was on the verge of losing, has metamorphosed almost half a century later into the currency of the Government of Benjamin Netanyahu to paralyze the peace dialogue for more than six years . The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, has turned to international forums to defend the two-state solution to Israeli colonial expansion in territories occupied since 1967.
Shortly before Donald Trump's arrival in the White House, the UN Security Council condemned as illegal the settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where more than 600,000 settlers live. It was the last time. The Republican president, now seeking re-election, will no doubt be remembered by Israelis. Two out of three consider him the US candidate most favorable to their interests, according to a poll released Monday by the Israeli television channel i24news.
The peace plan presented by Trump in January was flatly rejected by the Palestinians. Without recognizing Jerusalem as a shared capital and with an endorsement of the partial annexation of the West Bank, the deal of the century was born dead. But one of its regional derivatives, which has led to the normalization of Israel's relations with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, may have altered the paradigm that condemned the Jewish state to isolation in the Middle East, as long as it did not accept the creation of a state. of Palestine.
The Palestinians now appear to be under more external pressure. The Abraham Accords sponsored by Trump provide that, in exchange for the establishment of diplomatic relations with Abu Dhabi, the Netanyahu government must suspend the plan to extend sovereignty to the settlements and the Jordan Valley, in a territory equivalent to 30% of West Bank. When the annexation was announced in May, Palestinian Rais Mahmoud Abbas declared all agreements with Israel void and canceled security cooperation. Since then, the Palestinian Authority has refused to receive the taxes that the Israeli treasury collects on its behalf. The cut in income, coupled with the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, have left the Abbas government without resources to pay its officials and security forces.
In a recent phone call, the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, has let the Palestinian president know that, after the suspension of the annexation, his veto no longer makes sense. He warned him that he will not receive supplementary financing as long as he continues to reject Israeli transfers, which now amount to 2.5 billion shequels (630 million euros, as reported by the Israeli digital portal Walla.
Sources from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) do not consider the warning as an "ultimatum", but acknowledge the firmness of Brussels' position. Abbas prefers to wait, the same sources add, to know who will occupy the White House from January before taking any step. For this reason, he has demanded that Israel declare in writing that it will not implement the annexation envisaged in Trump's plan, something that Netanyahu refuses to explicitly acknowledge before ultranationalist voters. As Palestinian Prime Minister Mohamed Shtayeh admitted on Monday in a teleconference with the European Parliament, "if there is a change in the US presidency, it will be reflected in the relationship with Israel."
Palestinian officials have described the rapprochement of the Emirates and Bahrain with Israel as "treason" and a "stab in the back". The diplomatic turnaround has blown up the consensus of the Arab Peace Initiative sponsored in 2002 by Saudi Arabia, which links the normalization of relations with Israel to the establishment of a State of Palestine on the 1967 borders and with its capital in East Jerusalem. .
A member of the Saudi royal family has sent a warning to the Palestinians to moderate their criticism of the Gulf countries. Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, who was ambassador to Washington for more than two decades and former head of the Saudi intelligence services, has expressed in a series of interviews with the Al Arabiya channel that his country “must be more concerned about its own interests than for the Palestinian cause ”.
Prince Bandar accused the Palestinian leaders of making a "reprehensible speech" against the Emirates and Bahrain as they draw closer to Turkey and Iran. He also recalled the “betrayal” of Yasir Arafat, the historic Palestinian leader, of his Arab allies by supporting Saddam Hussein after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990: “The time is past for the Palestinians to stop paying for their mistakes. ”.
Messages from Germany and the Jewish community in the US
In addition to the European Union, which contributes to sustaining the Palestinian Authority, Germany has also sent a clear signal to President Abbas by hosting last week the first meeting between the heads of Israel's Foreign Affairs, Gabi Ashkenazi, and the United Arab Emirates, Abdullah. bin Zayed al Nahyan, after the normalization of relations. The two jointly visited the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, in an unprecedented diplomatic gesture. Europe has welcomed the establishment of ties between the two Gulf countries and the Jewish state, although it calls for it to be followed by negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
The president of the American Jewish Congress, Ron Lauder, visited Abbas in Ramallah last weekend, where he arrived by helicopter from Jordan. Palestinian sources have assured that the head of the organization carried a message to the Rais to resume direct dialogue with Israel. Abbas replied that he would not agree to open talks under the formula of Trump's plan, although he was willing to return to negotiate with Israel in the framework of an international conference in 2021.