Time and again, Arab states have condemned Israeli colonialism. Has there been a change of heart?

As Israel prepares to illegally seize occupied Palestinian land on the West Bank, Palestinian officials are raising the alarm in a desperate bid to elicit some form of backing from the Arab world.

In a speech in Ramallah, the beleaguered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said: “The Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine are absolved, as of today, of all agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments.”

Security agreements with Israel would be abandoned with Israel having to "bear all responsibilities... as an occupying power" but Abbas has threatened a similar thing in the past to little and no avail.

But are Arab capitals listening?

If past Israeli announcements formalising the colonial conquest of Palestinian and Syrian lands is anything to go by, the Palestinian people could be, politically at least, on their own.

Occupied capital

When the US announced that it would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 2017, breaking international relations, the Arab League wheeled out a prepared statement.

"We say very clearly that taking such action is not justified ... It will not serve peace or stability, but will fuel extremism and result in violence," adding that "It only benefits one side; the Israeli government that is hostile to peace."

The statement by the Arab League, however, has been undermined by the actions of individual member states, rendering the league ineffective.  

In an interview last year, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, told the UAE-based newspaper, The National, “Many, many years ago, when there was an Arab decision not to have contact with Israel, that was a very, very wrong decision, looking back.”

Arab countries that have recognised Israel, these include Jordan and Egypt, announced a review of agreements between the two countries but with little followup about what that might mean in practice.

Even as support for the Palestinian cause has remained high amongst the Arab populations of the Middle East, authoritarian leaders of the region have failed to reflect it.

The Bahraini Foreign Minister, Ahmed al-Khalifa, gave an unprecedented interview to the Times of Israel remarking "We do believe that Israel is a country that is here to stay, and we want better relations with it, and we want peace with it.”

Yet how peace is achieved while Israel is still colonising Palestinian land, is an issue that has never adequately been dealt with by Arab leaders.  

Golan heights

When the Trump administration formalised the Israeli conquest of the Golan Heights, a strip of land belonging to Syria, regionally, the move was met with a collective shrug.

Taking advantage of the Syrian civil war, the US and Israel found an opportunity to take the Golan Heights when the governance structure in Damascus remains hotly contested.

A Chatham House official working within the UK-based think tank for international affairs said at the time, "Trump officials are being embraced all over the region in spite announcements like moving the American embassy to Jerusalem or saying the Golan [Heights] is Israeli territory. This puts Arab leaders in stark opposition to the critical sentiments of their populations towards the United States' Middle East policies."

Countries like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have increasingly relied on outsourcing their positions to the Arab League and thereby ensuring no official accountability.

Deal of the century

After Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner claimed to have read 25 books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he published his ‘Deal of the Century’ which he intended would result in peace. Or so he wanted most observers to think.

The plan would see Israel keeping much of the illegal settlements and conditional sovereignty for Palestinians.

At the announcement of the plan at the White House, eyebrows were raised when it was became known that in attendance were the UAE, Oman and Bahrani ambassadors. It was seen effectively as a move that carved out Palestine.

Their attendance gave the plan a veneer of Arab backing and the UAE later promoted the deal with a decidedly positive spin.

The final nail in the coffin?

As Israel embarks on its plan to grab as much Palestinian land as possible while Trump runs the White House, Arab countries have turned their condemnations into an art form.

First, the Arab League, as it has done for decades, slammed the Israeli proposal.

Their statement read, "The implementation of plans to annex any part of the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, including the Jordan Valley ... and the lands on which Israeli settlements are standing represents a new war crime ... against the Palestinian people."

Proposals were then drawn up for Jordan and Egypt to review their peace treaties with Israel.

And finally came a plea for a two-state solution which goes largely unheeded and undercut by the actions of individual Arab states with diverging narrow interests.

Ultimately, the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must. With Arab states unwilling to help, the Palestinians are set for further suffering. 

Source: TRT World