ANALYSIS: Palestinians Join Axis of Resistance

Ostensibly Israel’s peace partners, the Palestinians risk being left behind as the rest of the region moves toward normalization

ANALYSIS: Palestinians Join Axis of Resistance
Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is experiencing huge problems after it rejected flat-out US President Donald J. Trump’s vision on peace with Israel and ended all cooperation with the Americans and the Jewish state.

Relations between the PA and Arab states are at an all-time low as became also visible in the money stream from Arab countries to the Palestinian Authority. As my colleague, Baruch Yadid from TPS pointed out, Arab countries this year only contributed NIS 132 million to the PA so far, compared to NIS 716 last year.

Both PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his side-kick Saeb Erekat, the Secretary-General of the PLO who is now hospitalized in Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem in critical condition due to the fact that he got the COVID-19 virus, have condemned the peace agreements between Israel, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates in unusually harsh language.

They used the words “betrayal”, “treason” and “a stab in the back” in their criticism while vowing never to accept the peace treaties between Israel and the two Gulf States. The two Palestinian leaders, furthermore, vowed not to let citizens of the UAE and Bahrain who come to visit Israel entering the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

The PA also irritated Saudi Arabia that is reportedly also considering normalizing ties with Israel.

UAE-based media outlet Al-Arabiya last week published an interview with Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz who harshly criticized the Palestinian leadership for its failure to reach a peace agreement with Israel since the Oslo Accords were signed in the nineties of the last century.

Prince Bandar, who was Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US in the nineties of the last century and was involved with the peace summit at Camp David in July 2000, said the criticism of Abbas and Erekat was ” totally unacceptable” and then adopted the Israel position that Palestinian Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss the chance of reaching a peace agreement with Israel.

Bandar also said that the words “betrayal, treason” and “a knife in the back of the Palestinians” were more applicable to the internal Palestinian power struggle between the PA and Hamas after the Egyptians and others conducted countless meetings with the parties in order to reach national unity among the Palestinian factions.

Saudi Arabia has reduced its financial aid to the Palestinian Authority with 80 percent this year and no longer considers itself as a patron of the Palestinian national cause.

As a result of the crisis in its relations with the moderate Arab countries the PA has now become isolated and is suffering from a huge financial crisis, also because Qatar and the European Union have told Abbas that there will not be additional financial aid to the PA as long as it refuses to cooperate with the Israeli government on the transfer of taxes and duties Israel collects on behalf of the PA.

If you think that this isolation and the lack of funds would have a moderating effect on the leaders of the Palestinian Authority you’re wrong.

Instead, the PA is seeking to join the so-called Islamist resistance coalition against which is led by Iran and Turkey.

Last week a high-level delegation of Hamas leaders and the leadership of the Fatah organization, which is ruling the PA met in Istanbul under the auspices of Turkish Islamist dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss Palestinian unity, new elections in the PA and Gaza and, cooperation in the struggle against Israel.

The Palestinian delegation reportedly also met with members of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in Turkey to discuss cooperation in the battle against Israel.

Thereafter, the Fatah delegation headed by the extremist Jibril Rajoub flew to Qatar to secure more financial aid and support for the new-found resistance coalition. Once in Qatar the oil-rich state decided to give the Palestinian leaders $50 million that would be transferred to their personal bank accounts.

Abbas, meanwhile, contacted IRGC officials and representatives of the Turkish and the Qatari governments to discuss “ways of coordinating positions to direct blows to the interests of the Arab countries, especially the Arab Gulf states and Egypt.”

The aging Palestinian leader reportedly badmouthed Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and Prince Bandar in a phone call to Turkish President Erdogan.

All this shows that the PA leadership is again betting on the wrong horse and is harming the interests of the Palestinian Arabs living in the territories under its control.

The PA leaders are being harshly criticized on social media in the Arab world and are deemed not relevant anymore. The same counts for the majority of the Palestinian Arabs living in Judea and Samaria as well as in Jerusalem.

Abdullah Al-Hakeem, a Saudi political analyst and former director of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies who has visited Israel recently, this week said the following about PA leaders:

“The real enemy of the Palestinians is the corrupt Palestinian Authority. When I visited Israel, I attended an event for a member of the Palestinian Authority, and I saw people queuing up to enter to eat. How much I suffered watching this scene. One of the members of the Palestinian Authority asked me why I left the event. I answered him that we must make peace with Israel to create a better reality for the Palestinians. He got angry with me and stopped talking to me.”

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