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.