Palestinians seek emergency Arab League session over Israel’s increasingly warming relation with several Arab nations. Developments such as Netanyahu’s visit to Oman, a visit by Chad’s president in Israel and reports on Israeli attempts to tighten relations with Sudan and Bahrain and other Arab countries in what is seen as the normalization of relations with Israel, are ‘worrisome’, says Abbas adviser Nabil Sha’ath (photo above).
Haaretz The closer relations that some Arab countries have developed with Israel run counter to declarations and resolutions adopted by the Arab League and Organization of Islamic Cooperation summits, Sha’ath said.
“There are a number of Arab and Islamic resolutions and declarations stating explicitly that there will be no process of normalization with Israel without a resolution of the Palestinian issue based on the Arab Peace Initiative and decisions of the international community,” Sha’ath said.
“What we have been seeing in recent weeks – beginning with Netanyahu’s visit to Oman and the visit to Israel by the president of Chad, and now there is talk of Bahrain and Sudan and ties of one kind or another with Saudi Arabia – raises question marks, and there is therefore a need to clarify the Arab and Islamic position,” he said.
The Israeli prime minister’s visit to Oman and possible future visits to Bahrain and Sudan don’t constitute the establishment of full diplomatic relations, Sha’ath said, but he described the developments as “the beginning of a worrisome process that needs to be stopped.” A report by Al Jazeera in November described the inclusion of Israel as a “potential partner” with the Saudis as a new phase in the Middle East.
Post Israel’s relations with Saudi Arabia appear to be especially warm. In the last month, Intelligence Affairs Minister Israel Katz gave an interview to the Saudi newspaper Elaph, in which he described Israel’s common interests in opposing an Iranian presence in Lebanon. He also extended an invitation to Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman to come to Israel.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has adopted a distinctly warmer tone toward Israel, seeing it as an attractive regional economic and technological hub as well as a potential partner in the kingdom’s cold war with Iran.
Now many commentators see a new round of Israel’s growing relations with the Arab world. This starts in the Gulf with the United Arab Emirates. Sigurd Neubauer, a Washington- based analyst, wrote in November 2017 that Israel-UAE relations have been fostered on several levels, including the UAE reaching out to pro-Israel voices in the US. “With Israel and GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] members viewing Iran as an increasingly serious threat.
Sha’ath said he did not believe closer relations between Israel and Arab countries was evidence of a Palestinian foreign policy failure, adding that that the Trump administration has been applying pressure on African and Arab countries to forge closer ties.
“In Israel, and also in the United States, they are exploiting the opening presented by the [internal] Palestinian rift to draw closer to Arab and Islamic countries,” he said.
Mustafa Barghouti, the chairman of the Palestinian National Initiative and a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, told Haaretz that Arab and Islamic governments should be punishing Israel rather than rewarding it.
But what do the Palestinian people think?