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

Dec. 16 2021

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.

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Read more at Pressure Points

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

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship