On November 17, 2020, the Palestinian Authority announced that it would restore security cooperation with Israel and agreed to receive the tax money that Israel had collected for them.
But for the near future, the prospects for the Palestinian Authority (PA) remain bleak. The Arab Spring changed priorities in the Middle East. Observers must be careful to avoid the common mistake of judging the PA’s perspectives through the dual vision of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while the truest and broader assessment should be regional. Palestinians must make decisions with an eye toward their natural environment – the Sunni Arab world – and not Turkey, Iran, or the Shiite world in general. In this new reality, the Sunni Arabs are on the side of Israel and not the Palestinians.
What makes matters even worse for PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is that the Israeli-Arab Sunni alliance attracts European powers such as France due to Turkish-French tensions in the Mediterranean and its satellite war in Libya. President-elect Biden cannot ignore these real facts on the ground and dismiss them. What he can do is convince the PA and Israel to come back to the negotiating table, not to challenge the Sunni-Israeli Arab alliance, but to join the PA.
The PA’s hesitation in this regard is to lose Turkey and Iran as diplomatic cards to use and to be forced to rely on Qatar to balance the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia. During Trump’s tenure, this was not possible. In the Biden presidency, the PA hopes to be able to keep the Sunni world while keeping Turkey and Qatar aside, but not losing them. This is especially important to Mahmoud Abbas in defiance of political rival Mohammed Dahlan who lives in the United Arab Emirates. Relying only on the Gulf with no other cards to play means strengthening Dahlan loyalists in the West Bank [Cisjordania] and the Palestinian diaspora.
Abbas’s shuffling of letters with the bogus reconciliation talks in Turkey led by Qatari proxies, Jibril Rajoub (Fatah) and Salah Aruri (Hamas), was deemed anti-Trump. In the Sunni Arab world, however, the move was seen as dangerous.
Cooperation between Fatah and Hamas lit the Arab warning lights
The first Arab state to be alarmed by the talks between Fatah and Hamas was Jordan. The prospect of Hamas gaining power in the West Bank is a horror for the Hashemite Kingdom. Although the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is a subsidiary, is a legitimate power in Jordan – as a political party – Hamas is seen as the dangerous armed wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.
According to Palestinian sources, Jordan recently took advantage of the visit of an important American figure, who has the doors open from both Trump and Biden, to convince Mahmoud Abbas to withdraw from the course dictated by Hamas and return to the negotiating table with Israel. . The American promised to work with Biden, once elected, to renew talks with Israel. Apparently, Jordan also applied its diplomacy in Washington in this regard.
During the bogus talks between Rajoub’s Fatah and Aruri’s Hamas in Turkey, Mahmoud Abbas considered giving his approval to the elections with a joint Hamas and Fatah list, but not holding the elections, in order to give new relevance. to the long-forgotten and deviant “Palestinian problem.”
Negotiations on the terms of the PLO
On November 17, 2020, the PA announced that it would restore security cooperation between the PA and Israel, accept $ 100 million per month from taxes collected for them by Israel, and restore the salaries of public workers. With that, Abbas is signaling to the Biden administration his willingness to return to negotiations, but on the terms of the PLO. That includes the restoration of American aid, the repeal of Trump’s policies on Jerusalem and the US Embassy, the 1967 borders, and a solution for Palestinian refugees.
Those maximalist bargaining points do not fit the new mood of Sunni Arab countries that prefer the “deal” approach and compromise on the borders in the West Bank rather than the PLO myth of “people’s struggle” – even as a “political struggle”. These Sunni countries accepted Trump’s measures regarding Jerusalem, but the issue of Jerusalem is very sensitive in the inter-Arab-Muslim struggles and deserves a separate examination.
One issue that worries Sunni Arab powers is the refocusing on human rights issues that Biden, like Obama, will almost certainly adopt. Concerned Saudi and Egyptian voices are already being heard.
The news that President Trump lost the election was greeted in Ramallah with relief, not so much because of the political prospects of resuming the peace talks, but because the Trump plan had overturned the PLO doctrine of the liberation of Palestine through the ” fight, “whether military or political. The path of “struggle” brought the Palestinians to a standstill; the “deal” path led to the normalization of the peace treaties between Israel and the Gulf states. Today, the term “peace” is associated with the Gulf and not with Palestine, and the incentive for Western leaders to invest in the Palestinian problem to win their Nobel prizes is drastically reduced.
Fuente: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Pinhas Inbari is a veteran Arab affairs correspondent who previously reported for Israel Radio and the newspaper Al Hamishmar, and currently works as an analyst for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.