A Palestinian state may still be imminent, but Israel now has the stronger hand

, by Yair Gorni

A Palestinian state may still be imminent, but Israel now has the stronger hand

When the Israeli-Palestinian peace process began in Madrid 1991 the PLO (officially represented in the Jordanian delegation at the time) had more diplomatic relations with foreign countries than the state of Israel; The Soviet Union, traditional ally of the PLO, still existed, and the Arab league had yet to recognize Israel’s right to exist. While some of this had changed in favor of Israel in the years to come: the Arab league published the Arab peace initiative in 2002, spearheaded by the Saudis, and more countries around the world established relations with Israel, it seemed from the Palestinian point of view that time works in their favor, and that the more they will pressure Israel for an almost full withdrawal to the pre- 1967 lines, the more the international community would support their demands.

This made sense at the time, as alongside international support, it was assumed that demographics work in their favor as senior PLO negotiator at that time, Ahmed Qurei, used to boast that the Palestinians has “all the time in the world”, and it is Israel which should worry regarding the potential that if negotiations will fail than an Arab majority one state solution will be imposed.

Nevertheless, the reality of 1991-2008 is no longer the case. The European Union, who had expanded to include various countries of East and Central Europe, alongside the rise of moderate Center-Right wing government on the west, had become far more pro-Israeli than it have ever been, and despite long years of efforts by the BDS movement to severe economic ties between the EU and Israel, the two enjoy prosperous trade relations, with the former being the latter’s largest trade partner. The current president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, had made clear that while providing humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza is essential, Europe stands with Israel.

Israel had also received strong support from central and Eastern European leaders including the two most prominent players in the region, Polish president Andrej Duda, and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenski. In Opposite to western universities’ radical progressives, the majority of Central and Eastern Europeans perceive Israel, and Jews in general, to be a fellow ’small nation’ who like themselves are fighting to gain independence from a larger nation, that being the Arabs as a whole, rather than Palestinians in particular.

Thus, rather than comparing Russia with Israel, the former is being compared with the Arabs or Middle Eastern Muslims as a whole. The brutal and barbarous terrorist massacre of October 7th, that was allegedly done with the Blessing and aid of Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah which together with the Iraqi Hezbollah, Yemen’s Houthis, Assad’s Syria, and Putin’s Russia are forming the new ’Axis of Evil’ of modern geo-politics. This had no doubt served for them as a proof of their existing narrative of Israel, not Palestine, being the ’David’ figure fighting a Goliath. Thus, it seems that apart from Ireland, the EU states are turning towards Israel, and with such support it is unlikely that an Anti-Israeli pro BDS legislation will take place in the near future by the European parliament.

Not only that closer relations with Israel doesn’t harm the EU, the southern neighbor policy in which the EU increase its ties with the southern Mediterranean is also on the rise, as ties between the EU and Arab speaking countries such as Egypt, Morocco and Libya are also increasing. Moreover, India, once dominated by the pro-Palestinian INC, had also taken a shift towards Israel under the BJP’s rule. Taking all these things in mind, while adding the Abraham accords to the equation, it can safely be said that Israel is in a far better position in terms of geo-politics than it was in 2008 when the last serious peace talks took place. At the same time, as we saw in the Qatar hosted 2022 FIFA world cup tournament, the Palestinian cause is still supported by the vast majority of Arabs around the world, and while normalization with Israel seems to be less a taboo than it used to be in the past, it is likely that the citizens of those countries would expect their government to use their relations with Israel to pressure her against annexations and in favor of a gradual pushing for an end to the occupation through a gradual increase of Palestinian autonomous rule.

When concluding all these factors we can assume that if indeed we will see an end to the Hamas partial sovereign rule in the Gaza strip and a return of a Palestinian civil government (probably bound to the Palestinian Authority), it is likely that the Saudis as well as the United Arab Emirates will use their financial and political influence to rebuild the Palestinian authority and restore its legitimacy and power over the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank, as well as to use the regional alliance card to force a Israel back to the negotiations table with it, starting with enlargement of the autonomous area A and B regions in the West Bank.

Nevertheless, even if Benjamin Netanyahu and his blame games will be out of the picture, perhaps even in the near future, the Palestinians would be wrong to assume that their demands from the negotiations of 2000 and 2008 in which they called for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines (albeit with equal territorial exchanges) would be taken seriously by any Israeli leader or even Western and the Gulf Arab leaders as well.

All parties see the Palestinian problem as a burden rather than an asset and would have likely to expect greater pragmaticism from the Palestinian leadership or in the words of the Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS): “Palestinians must make peace or shut up”. In addition, as the Ultra-Orthodox Israeli population continue to grow unprecedently, combined with a possible Hamas-free and unoccupied Gaza strip, even Ahmed Qurei “demographic card” of a supposed Palestinian-Arab majority in the West bank and pre 1967 Israel combined remains irrelevant.

Under such circumstances, if the Palestinians hoped in the past that they will negotiate with a dovish Yossi Beilin like figure, after the October 7th brutal terroristmassacre they cannot expect less than a hawkish Yigal Alon figure, as the government of the US and EU states, and perhaps even India, from now on will address Israel’s old demands demand for a safer border in which for decades were endorsed by the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, as a just and moral demand, as unfortunately progressive Ideas that conventional wars are a thing of the past seemed a complete absurd after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the October events in the Negev- southern Israel.

Your comments

Warning, your message will only be displayed after it has been checked and approved.

Who are you?

To show your avatar with your message, register it first on gravatar.com (free et painless) and don’t forget to indicate your Email addresse here.

Enter your comment here

This form accepts SPIP shortcuts {{bold}} {italic} -*list [text->url] <quote> <code> and HTML code <q> <del> <ins>. To create paragraphs, just leave empty lines.

Follow the comments: RSS 2.0 | Atom