The Palestinian Authority Joins the Chemical-Weapons Convention to Spite Israel

June 14 2018

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), an independent international body that generally works in tandem with the UN, recently announced that it has admitted the “State of Palestine” as a member. To Raphael Ofek, allowing a nonexistent state to join the OPCW “borders on the absurd.”

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has no access to either offensive or defensive chemical-weapons technology and is not itself threatened by chemical weapons. Furthermore, it is 30 years since the Saddam Hussein regime murdered thousands of Iraqi Kurds in a chemical attack on the city of Halabja, but the PA has never uttered a word of condemnation. Nor has the PA ever condemned the use of chemical weapons by Bashar al-Assad’s army in the Syrian civil war against either armed opposition forces or the civilian population. . . .

The PA’s accession to the OPCW can thus only be explained as one more step in its campaign to win recognition from international organizations so as to use them as springboards for denigrating Israel. [For instance, the] PA joined the UN’s cultural agency, UNESCO, on November 23, 2011. Note UNESCO’s subsequent one-sided approach against Israel. . . . On April 1, 2015, the PA became a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, which it seeks to exploit to sue Israel for alleged war crimes. . . .

While part of the drive behind these moves is the desire of senior PA officials to come and go in the halls of international organizations, their central object is to advance the PA’s agenda by using these various forums to denounce and delegitimize Israel.

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More about: Bashar al-Assad, Chemical weapons, ICC, Palestinian Authority, Politics & Current Affairs, Saddam Hussein

What Egypt’s Withdrawal from the “Arab NATO” Signifies for U.S. Strategy

A few weeks ago, Egypt quietly announced its withdrawal from the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), a coalition—which also includes Jordan, the Gulf states, and the U.S.—founded at President Trump’s urging to serve as an “Arab NATO” that could work to contain Iran. Jonathan Ariel notes three major factors that most likely contributed to Egyptian President Sisi’s abandonment of MESA: his distrust of Donald Trump (and concern that Trump might lose the 2020 election) and of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman; Cairo’s perception that Iran does not pose a major threat to its security; and the current situation in Gaza:

Gaza . . . is ruled by Hamas, defined by its covenant as “one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.” Sisi has ruthlessly persecuted the Brotherhood in Egypt. [But] Egypt, despite its dependence on Saudi largesse, has continued to maintain its ties with Qatar, which is under Saudi blockade over its unwillingness to toe the Saudi line regarding Iran. . . . Qatar is also supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, . . . and of course Hamas.

[Qatar’s ruler] Sheikh Tamim is one of the key “go-to guys” when the situation in Gaza gets out of hand. Qatar has provided the cash that keeps Hamas solvent, and therefore at least somewhat restrained. . . . In return, Hamas listens to Qatar, which does not want it to help the Islamic State-affiliated factions involved in an armed insurrection against Egyptian forces in northern Sinai. Egypt’s military is having a hard enough time coping with the insurgency as it is. The last thing it needs is for Hamas to be given a green light to cooperate with Islamic State forces in Sinai. . . .

Over the past decade, ever since Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power, Israel has also been gradually placing more and more chips in its still covert but growing alliance with Saudi Arabia. Egypt’s decision to pull out of MESA should give it cause to reconsider. Without Egypt, MESA has zero viability unless it is to include either U.S. forces or Israeli ones. [But] one’s chances of winning the lottery seem infinitely higher than those of MESA’s including the IDF. . . . Given that Egypt, the Arab world’s biggest and militarily most powerful state and its traditional leader, has clearly indicated its lack of confidence in the Saudi leadership, Israel should urgently reexamine its strategy in this regard.

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More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy