Last Week’s Peace Agreement Sends a Clear Message to the Palestinians

September 21, 2020 | Douglas Feith
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Considering the seminal agreement, formally concluded last Tuesday, in which both Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates normalized their relations with Israel, Douglas Feith writes:

This diplomatic double-play refutes notions that have powerfully influenced U.S. Middle East policy for more than half a century. The first is the assumption that the Palestinians are central to the larger Arab-Israeli conflict. The second is the belief that the Palestinian problem has to be solved before the United States or Israel can improve relations with the Arab states. Both belong on the trash heap of the peace process.

In light of this history, the Trump team rejects the view that the West Bank is the essence of the conflict. It sees the key to peace as Israeli strength and Palestinian resignation to Israel’s permanent existence. When Trump promised to recognize Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank important to Israeli security, he was warning the Palestinians that continued rejectionism would lose them ground. He was showing support for Israeli security and, in effect, minting currency that Israel and the United States could use with the Palestinians or the Arab states.

The message to the Palestinians from yesterday’s White House signing ceremony is that they need a political upheaval—new leaders, new institutions, new ideas—or they are going to become utterly irrelevant in the eyes of the world, including the broader Arab world. As they lose attention, they will lose diplomatic support and economic aid. If they cannot make war and they will not make peace, their hopes to shape their own future will diminish to nothing.

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