Two Signs the Palestinian Issue Is Rapidly Losing Its Importance to World Politics

On Tuesday, writes Elliott Abrams, two news items appeared suggesting that the fate of the Palestinians no longer exercises the pull it once did on governments and diplomats. The first came from the Arab states of the Persian Gulf:

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders met in Riyadh on December 14 and issued a comprehensive—if very vague—“Riyadh Declaration” that mentioned their economic, security, and defense cooperation, climate change, and COVID-19—and said not one word about the Palestinian Authority (PA) or the Palestinian cause. This is not a great surprise, because the GCC countries have recently given diminished lip service to the Palestinian cause while, in several cases, developing warmer relations with Israel. The GCC countries are primarily interested in security and economic growth, and the PA contributes to neither goal.

The second was a joint statement from the U.S. and the PA on “the renewal of the U.S.-Palestinian economic dialogue,” which does little more than announce that, after five years of refusing to engage with Washington, Ramallah is now willing to do so. Abrams adds:

The Palestinian issue has not at all disappeared (and incantations of dedication to the “two-state solution” continue), but as 2021 ends it lacks the power and salience it has held for decades. . . . No one is forgetting the subject, but it is perhaps being reduced to its proper size on the global diplomatic agenda. If Arab states, and the United States, avoid symbolic politics and rewards for PA officials who represent mostly their own personal and party interests, and concentrate instead on actions that might actually benefit the Palestinian people, the latter will in the end be the beneficiaries.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Gulf Cooperation Council, Palestinians, U.S. Foreign policy

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security