Israelis have long wanted to isolate Palestinians from the rest of the Arab world, aiming to deconstruct 'Palestinianhood'. Experts, however, do not see it weakening anytime soon.
Israel has fought several wars with Arab states: defeating Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq in different battles at various times since 1948.
With the recent UAE-Israel normalisation of ties, which will apparently be followed by other countries like Bahrain, Oman and Sudan, it appears that Israel has finally arrived closer to its strategic goal of legitimising the Zionist occupation in Palestine in the eye of the Arab states.
“Israel understands that by isolating the Palestinians from their Arab depth is something that will weaken them and their struggle,” says Abir Kopty, a Berlin-based Palestinian writer and academic.
“It also understands that making ‘peace’ agreements with Arab countries, especially powerful ones like the UAE will drag more countries to sign agreements and will weaken further Palestinian global stands,” Kopty told TRT World.
Like Kopty, Diana Buttu, a Canadian-Palestinian human rights lawyer, who used to work as an advisor to both the Palestinian Authority and its President Mahmoud Abbas, also thinks that the recent deal aims to make sure that “the Palestinians lose all leverage to demand their freedom and equality.”
With the deal, Israel and the UAE want to make sure that “Palestinians have no leverage and no allies to be able to push back against Israel,” Buttu told TRT World.
“The damage is clear, normalising Israel in the Arab world, intertwined interests with Israel will legitimise all of Israel’s crimes against Palestinians, which will continue to happen, in case someone has illusions that UAE will have a say on this,” Kopty analyses.
With friends like these
Across their modern history from the 1948 War, the Six Days War of 1967, to the Oslo Peace Accords of the 1990s, Palestinians lost “big” as a result of consecutive “so-called peace agreements” of Arab states like Egypt and Jordan with Israel, according to Sami al Arian, a Palestinian-American academic.
Those agreements are really not peace agreements but the official Arab expressions of their acceptance of the Israeli invasion over Palestinians, says Arian.
“Now, they (Palestinians) are being abandoned by many Arab states. The first is the UAE and unfortunately that would probably be followed by Bahrain, Oman, possibly Sudan, Mauritania and Saudi Arabia,” Arian told TRT World.
With the Israel-Gulf rapprochement, the Arab front against Tel Aviv shrinks considerably and the isolation of the Palestinians becomes stark.
“Effectively, what the leader of the UAE, Mohamed bin Zayed, has done by making the relationship with Israel open and public, is to announce the decoupling of the Israel-Arab conflict from the Israel-Palestine conflict,”wrote Anshel Pfeffer, an Israeli writer, in an article for Haaretz.
Because “Palestinians have been stripped of all of their negotiation cards” due to the failure of their leadership and Arab states, Israel has no thought to give any kind of recognition to Palestinians, including accepting them as Israeli Arabs, according to the Palestinian-American professor.
The Israeli establishment prefers to treat its Palestinian-origin citizens as Arabs, not Palestinians, leaving an impression that after expelling as many as Palestinians as possible, those remaining will become “an Arab minority” that can be integrated into Israel not as Palestinians, but Arab citizens of Israel.
Will they be Israeli citizens? “Of course not,” says Arian.
“The Zionist movement has always sought to control and occupy the land and to depopulate the land from as many Palestinians as possible. That has been the Israeli strategy and they would find a historical opportunity by which they can transfer as many Palestinians through whatever means from the land of Palestine,” Arian observed.
Israel wants to make Palestinians live “in a state of despair” in their own land, says Arian.
What is the morale of Palestinians?
While the damage to Palestinian aspirations is clear in the wake of the recent deal, experts also think that the sense of 'Palestinianhood' across the diaspora and the homeland is not weakening.
“Palestinians are going to pursue to bring an end to the Israeli Apartheid. It’s just most unfortunate that the UAE, who is both member of the Arab League and supposed to be one of our brothers, has chosen to ally and align themselves with our oppressor rather than working to secure our freedom,” adds Buttu, the Palestinian human rights lawyer.
Arian, whose opposition to Zionism has landed him in trouble in the US, is also a leading figure in the Palestinian diaspora.
While Israelis are trying to reach their aim to depopulate Palestinians, “they also feel miserably,” opines Arian.
“Today the number of Palestinians in the historical land of Palestine has exceeded the number of Jews, which means Zionism has not been able to reach its goal of having an exclusive state for the Jews and having the Jews the overwhelming majority in the historical land of Palestine,” he says.
Unexpectedly high Palestinian birthrates mean they could widen the margin soon, according to the professor.
Despite their leadership’s miserable failures, “Palestinians have determined to continue their struggle and resistance against the occupation. They are not going nowhere,” opines Arian.
“Israelis cannot declare a final victory until they get rid of Palestinians. It’s impossible today to get rid of seven million Palestinians, who live inside the historical land of Palestine including so-called Israeli Arabs as well as another seven million outside, who are resisting and who are intent on returning to their homelands.”
Arian also thinks that the Palestinian identity has stayed intact despite the never-ending setbacks his people have gone through since the 1940s.
“Palestinians have become more aware of their plight. We are living now in the fifth generation of Palestinian refugees and their struggle has not waned or has not weakened,” says the professor.
“We found the youngsters leading efforts worldwide to boycott and divest and sanction Israel.”