When Zionist forces launched into the ethnic cleaning of Palestine to ascertain the state of Israel in 1948, the plight of the Palestinian folks shocked the Arab world. It angered Arab nations who have been amid their very own anti-colonial struggles and elevated the liberation of Palestine to the standing of a pan-Arab trigger.
However as Arab regimes, each republican and monarchical, turned extra established, the draw and the utility of the Palestinian trigger for Arab leaders slowly started to fade.
The abandonment of the Palestinians is immediately associated to the undemocratic nature of Arab regimes and their persevering with political dependence on america, the principle supporter of Israel and its settler-colonial undertaking.
Certainly, Palestine at this time seems like an afterthought within the Arab political order, with many states making peace and normalising relations with Israel, the one colonial state left within the Arab world, whereas blaming Palestinian political disunity for this unhappy state of affairs.
The autocratic censorship of Palestine
The Palestinian trigger has all the time been, and certainly stays, a central problem within the Arab public’s creativeness and an emblem of the train of free expression. Regimes used to search out it tough to restrict their folks’s need to voice their solidarity with Palestinians residing as second-class residents inside Israel, beneath occupation within the West Financial institution and the Gaza Strip, and in squalid circumstances in refugee camps throughout the area.
However with Arab governments turning into extra authoritarian and entrenched, the house for advocacy for the Palestinian trigger has shrunk. Rising management over public discourse, rising censorship and escalating political violence have silenced dissent throughout the Arab world.
Not solely are requires democratic change stymied in Arab nations, however expressions of solidarity with Palestinians are additionally being met with vicious repression, as regimes search to manage the narrative of the Palestinian trigger.
The intention of this monopolisation of how the Palestinian battle is addressed in public is to cowl up the truth that Arab regimes have more and more deserted making any important political effort to assist the Palestinians. As a substitute, official assist has been restricted to misleading rhetoric and symbolic gestures in order to keep away from confrontation with Israel and its backer, america.
Whereas this has been detrimental to the Palestinian battle and in style Arab solidarity with it, it has enabled Arab governments to dedicate their energies to their very own survival amid the myriad of political, financial, and social illnesses they face.
Surrendering Palestine to the US
In 1977, a number of months earlier than his fateful journey to Israel, which paved the best way for a US-brokered peace deal between Egypt and Israel, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat quipped that Washington held “99 % of the playing cards” within the Center East. The collapse of the Soviet Union 14 years later solidified that actuality and Arab dependence on the US has solely grown since then.
Looking for to keep up good relations with the superpower, Arab regimes allowed Washington – Israel’s major provider of weapons and navy assist – to take management of peace efforts within the area. This left no house for Arab leaders to positively impression decision-making relating to the Palestinians.
Slowly however absolutely, the rights of the Palestinian folks dropped down the precedence listing of Arab governments which noticed the US as the principle guarantor of their political survival and slender financial pursuits.
The normalisation course of between some Arab states and Israel that was shepherded by the Trump administration is simply one other iteration of the gradual Arab abandonment of the Palestine trigger. It culminated within the so-called Abraham Accords, which regardless of all the guarantees of “advantages” for the Palestinians, held nothing of worth for them or their nationwide aspirations.
In truth, the Arab normalisation with Israel has solely emboldened the Zionist state in its oppression of the Palestinians and paved the best way for the de facto annexation of the occupied West Financial institution.
The escalating settler violence towards the Palestinian folks, together with the current pogrom against the Palestinian village of Huwara, and the open calls by Israeli officers for ethnic cleaning are a mirrored image of how empowered and assured Israel feels that it will probably commit conflict crimes and crimes towards humanity with full impunity.
Probably the most that Arab governments have completed in response to Israeli aggression is problem futile condemnations and protests.
The excuse of Palestinian disunity
Since 2007, when Hamas took over the federal government within the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian Authority (PA) managed by Fatah, Palestine has not had a unified political management. Worse nonetheless, the PA, which is the internationally recognised physique governing the occupied Palestinian territories, has misplaced nearly all of its legitimacy within the eyes of the Palestinian inhabitants.
Palestinian political disunity has not solely labored in Israel’s favour however has additionally turn out to be a handy excuse for Arab regimes to not advance the Palestinian trigger. They cynically cause that if Palestinians – who’ve through the years demanded to be unbiased in deciding their very own affairs – do not need a unified stance, why and the way might the Arab world work on their behalf?
On the similar time, most Arab regimes have thrown their weight behind the PA, which has turn out to be an extension of the authoritarian Arab political order. It refuses to make itself accountable to the Palestinian folks and on the similar time does nearly nothing to advocate for the Palestinians’ nationwide and human rights.
By blaming Palestinian disunity and pretending to assist Palestinians by means of the PA, Arab regimes have basically abdicated their duty in the direction of them.
Deserted by Arab leaders, the Palestinians discover themselves with no obvious allies of their battle towards an more and more brutal occupation and apartheid. The US-brokered “peace course of” is clearly a farce and worldwide establishments, such because the United Nations, stay too weak – or relatively deliberately weakened by the US – to take any significant motion on their behalf.
And but, the established order of Palestinian dispossession, life beneath a brutal occupation, and Israeli apartheid shouldn’t be sustainable. The Palestinian query continues to be the open wound of the Arab world.
At this time, it seems that solely the Palestinians can lead their very own battle for liberation – one that’s based mostly on a nationwide undertaking that features all sectors of Palestinian society inside Palestine and within the diaspora and that’s based mostly on the concepts of inclusion, pluralism, and democracy.
The ossified Palestinian nationwide establishments should be renewed by means of open democratic processes, together with the election of latest management that would take over from previous and failed elites. The Palestinian civil society, academic and social establishments, the youth motion, and different organisations should even be concerned in growing this nationwide undertaking.
As for the Arab political order, it has proven that it’s unreliable, as long as it’s authoritarian and depending on the very energy that sustains Israel and helps its insurance policies. Certainly, the Arab world might someday be able to taking part in a constructive function in serving to Palestinians; however that may solely be attainable after it undergoes its personal means of democratisation and renewal.
The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.