On Tuesday, September 22, 2020, the Palestinian foreign minister declared that Palestine has quit its current chairmanship of Arab League meetings, condemning as dishonorable any Arab agreement to establish formal ties with Israel.
This comes in the context in which Palestinians see the accords between UAE and Bahrain with Israel, signed in Washington a week ago, on September 15th, as a betrayal of their cause and a blow to their quest for an independent state in Israeli-occupied territory. Also, on September 9th, the Palestinians failed to persuade the Arab League to condemn nations breaking ranks and normalizing relations with Israel.
Palestine was supposed to chair Arab League meetings for the next six months, but Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah that it no longer wanted the position. “Palestine has decided to concede its right to chair the League’s council (of foreign ministers) at its current session. There is no honor in seeing Arabs rush towards normalization during its presidency,” Maliki said.
“This decision was taken after the Arab League Secretariat took a supporting position to the UAE and Bahrain, which normalized their relations with Israel in violation of the Arab Peace Initiative,” Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told a press conference in Ramallah. “Some influential Arab states refused to condemn the violation of the Arab Peace initiative,” he said.
In his remarks, he did not specifically name the UAE and Bahrain, Gulf Arab countries that share with Israel concern over Iran. He said Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit was informed of the Palestinian decision.
Al-Maliki, however, stressed that Palestine will not withdraw from the Arab League.
In this context of criticism, Palestinian group Islamic Jihad said on Thursday, September 17, 2020, that Palestine must withdraw from the Arab League after the forum refuses to condemn the controversial UAE-Israel normalization deal. “We call on the Palestinian Authority to withdraw from the Arab League because this body includes countries that abandoned Palestine and embrace Israel and reject condemning the normalization [with Israel],” said Mohammed al-Hindi, member of the Islamic Jihad’s political bureau. He also added that these Arab regimes do not represent “their people who are always sincere to Palestine.”
Palestinian question in the pact of the Arab League, summarized from past to present
As Gulf states embraced formal ties with Israel, some have looked to the Arab League to condemn normalization.
To understand the entire context of the present criticisms, the question has to be regarded on the basis.
The League of Arab States was founded in 1945 at the instigation and planning of Britain to protect British imperial interests. The British made sure that the Palestine question was subcontracted to the independent Arab states to absolve itself of responsibility for what it had wrought in the country. Seventy-five years later, the league has been transformed beyond recognition in most aspects, except in its major role of serving imperial interests, according to different opinions.
The final pact adopted as the basis for the founding of the Leagues of Arab States in 1945 stated in its Annex about Palestine the following: “it was on the basis of the recognition of her independence that the Covenant of the League of Nations determined a system of government for [Palestine]. Her existence and her independence among the nations can, therefore, no more be questioned de jure than the independence of any of the other Arab States…the Council of the League should designate an Arab delegate from Palestine to participate in its work until this country enjoys actual independence.”
By adopting Palestine, the league essentially spared the British any responsibility for what would befall the country in the future and it was ready to serve all the interests that Britain had set for it.
The league’s nominal commitment to Palestine was formalized in 1974 when it recognized the PLO as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” and forced Hussein to acquiesce in the new decision. The idea was to steer the PLO slowly away from revolutionary politics and bring it into an accommodation with the US and Israel.
The Arab League has clearly fulfilled its imperial obligations very well since its founding in 1945, successfully quashing valiant attempts by Egypt’s Nasser to make it serve the Arab peoples, and after 1990-91 became a mere executor of the US will.
As such, as expressed by several specialists, the present Israel – UAE / Bahrain deals only contribute to the dissolution of the initial objective of the League, possibly giving space for the acceptance of Israel within its ranks in the future, for an enlarged union.