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Opinion | Why the Palestinians Should Join the Abraham Accords

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One of President Joe Biden’s major stated goals for his trip to the Middle East is to bolster the Abraham Accords. Mind-bogglingly, the Accords were initiated by none other than the Trump Administration in 2020. They were designed to bypass the thorny Palestinian-Israeli conflict by forging direct ties between Israel and Arab states.

However, even the achievement of peace between Israel and every single Arab country will not bring real tangible peace on the ground, unless there is a permanent and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, based on a two-state solution. It is clear from the statements of Biden administration officials that, outside of stating his support for a two-state solution and increasing humanitarian aid, President Biden will not expend energies or political capital on reinvigorating the Israel-Palestine track of the peace process.

Given these minimal U.S. intentions, and to avoid complete exclusion from a new and growing axis of influence, if President Biden should offer the Palestinian Authority to join the Abraham Accords, it should accept – and with alacrity. If President Biden does not make such an offer, the Palestinians should proactively seek to join the Abraham Accords themselves. It would be very difficult and counterproductive, especially for Israel, to refuse such a Palestinian request.

There are still a few holdout Arab countries who are refusing to join the Abraham Accords at this time, namely Saudi Arabia (so long as King Salman is still alive), Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Algeria, and Tunisia. Sadly, the Palestinians do not enjoy anything like the leverage required to stop any Arab country from joining the Abraham Accords, not least if that accession is coupled with U.S. pressure or incentives.

The Palestinians recognized Israel back in the 1990s. Thus the notion that Arab countries’ refusal to recognize Israel can be used to extract concessions from Israel for the benefit of the Palestinians is an outdated and defunct idea.

The smart thing for the Palestinians is to join the Abraham Accords and leverage the influence of those Arab countries who are already members of the Accords to influence, and even pressure, Israel into beginning the final status negotiations between Israel and Palestine, within a defined period. Arab countries outside the Accords have zero or little influence over Israel.

Thus, instead of being on the outside, the Palestinians would be on the inside, exerting influence on the agenda and actions of the Arab participants of the Abraham Accords. Instead of leaving the Abraham Accords as a playing field for Israel only, Palestinian participation would be a pre-emptive strike that would turn the notion and goals of the Abraham Accords upside down.

For Israel, the participation of the Palestinians in the Abraham Accords, could make it justifiably easy for many more Arab and Muslim-majority countries to join the Accords – a goal of both successive U.S. administrations and Israel.

Unfortunately, senior Palestinian advisors close to President Mahmoud Abbas would automatically veto that course of action. To those Palestinian advisers and influencers, I say, “Wake up! Take advantage of the emerging political regional trend.”

Being part of the Abraham Accords would give the Palestinians tremendous power and influence on the normalization of ties between Israel and Arab countries. The Palestinians did not say a word when Morocco joined the Abraham Accords. I am not privy to what the King of Morocco told Abbas in the phone call that the king initiated with him prior to Morocco’s announcement that it planned to join the Accords. The Palestinian reaction was outright silence, surely the very definition of what it means to be sidelined.

It will be difficult for many Palestinians to think in an astute and unconventional manner thanks to all the negative propaganda they were fed following the launching of the Accords.

In my view, it would be a missed opportunity for the Palestinians not to join the Abraham Accords before the train travels too fast and too far without them. Palestinian influence over the course of the Abraham Accords will diminish with the passing of time and with it, any tangible hope for a Palestinian state.

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Article source: Haaretz | Bishara A. Bahbah |Jul 11, 2022

2024-02-22 05:36:48.000000

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