On Tuesday evening, President Trump hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain at the White House to sign a peace agreement (also referred to as the Abraham Accords). Trump touted it as “the historic Middle East peace agreement,” but it is actually a green light for further bloodshed. Under this “peace” agreement, the U.S. will sell the UAE F-35 fighter jets for the war on Yemen. Since 2015, when the UAE and Bahrain joined forces with Saudi Arabia to devastate the country, about 60,000 Yemeni civilians have died as a result.
The agreement is also grossly misleading. It speaks of peace yet does nothing to bring to an end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict—an ongoing source of injustice and trouble in the world. The word “peace” is just a propaganda ploy to attract support. The real aims are normalization, profit and military domination.
A pivotal element of the agreement, though vaguely stated, is to consolidate security “coordination.” In other words, if Israel bombs Gaza, the UAE and Bahrain will not condemn it; rather, they may even support Israel militarily. Yet no one whose land is occupied can be justly attacked. It is a moral duty to resist occupiers. Or is it “resistance” for everyone else and terrorism for us?
The UAE and Bahrain are the first of the Gulf countries to normalize relations with Israel. Egypt had already signed a peace treaty in 1979, followed by Jordan in 1994. Of course, ties began forming between them long before. In 2015, Israel opened a diplomatic office in Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE. The foreign and cultural ministers of Israel visited Abu Dhabi and held clandestine meetings with Emirati officials. This latest accord just brought it all into the open.
What accelerated the trend, leading to these accords, was the expansion of Iranian influence in the Middle East. Iran is the new “chief villain” in the region, making many countries feel insecure.
The UAE and Bahrain are trying to position the agreement as a tool to stop the annexation of the West Bank and pave the way for continued negotiations. Since then, however, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations has said that plans to annex parts of the West Bank are still on the table.
None of the issues we care about most are addressed in the accord: independence, right of return, etc. All that is offered is money. They think money solves everything, that money can even bring about peace. They want us to sell our country.
Meanwhile, the rush to normalization has exposed the Palestinian Authority as weak and ineffectual—a process that began with the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and continued with the suspension of the American aid. And now this accord.
The Abraham Accords are not the first such false promise. Over the last century, we have been through this a lot. Oslo was signed in 1993 under the political umbrella of the U.S. During the process of Oslo negotiation, Israel set aside and rejected any talks around sensitive issues such as, settlements, the status of Jerusalem and refugees.
Still, Oslo seemed to offer us the possibility of building and leading our own institutions. Instead, Israel kept control of security, with the power to enter our land at any time “if necessary.” Apparently, extrajudicial killing is “necessary” according to its code.
Although Oslo forbade the construction of more Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, building resumed two years after the treaty was signed. Israel is a cunning manipulator, which explains why every accord is no more than a piece of paper. It does not abide by treaties or recognize human rights.
In the so-called “Deal of the Century,” Trump legitimized Israel’s settlements in the West Bank, considered illegal under international law. He also denied the right of return for all 7 million Palestinians, and nowhere does he use the word “occupation.” Meanwhile, with each so-called peace treaty, large portions of the West Bank are eaten away. Is the ultimate goal to “liquidate” the Palestinian cause?
Trump has said, “I think the Palestinians very much want to be part of this plan.” To that I say, “We are the big losers if we agree.”
I demand an answer: Is it too much to ask for a dignified life? Is it too much to ask for a state under Palestinian sovereignty? Is it too much for an indigenous resident to return?