The “deal of the century” may no longer be part of mainstream narratives on Palestine, given the Biden Administration’s façade of favouring the two-state politics over annexation, Ramona Wadi writes.
A year since former US President Donald Trump announced the brokering of the Abraham Accords between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, there is no longer any pretence that the normalisation agreements were signed with any Palestinian interests in mind. The narrative of preventing Israel’s annexation of Palestinian territory was, of course, a mere vague premise upon which the international community could signal its approval, since human rights and international law were, rhetorically, part of the disseminated propaganda.
From the beginning it was clear that the Palestinians would be marginalised as a result of the accords. The former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been working towards the current scenario – as Israel wielded its influence, Arab countries abandoned all pretence of supporting Palestine. The altered perception had prompted Netanyahu to assert multiple times that Palestine was no longer a priority for the Arab world, and that normalising relations with Israel would no longer hit any impediment.
Peace is now blatantly equated with extending the Abraham Accords across as many Arab countries as possible. With the Palestinians completely excluded from politics – this is also exacerbated by the Palestinian Authority’s own normalisation of Israel through security coordination – the way forward is for trade deals that bolster the ties between Israel and Arab countries. Since PA leader Mahmoud Abbas takes his cues from Israel and the international community regardless of the political scenario, the Abraham Accords have muted Palestine, and brought Arab countries closer to the international community’s own normalisation of relations with Israel in return for reaping economic benefits.
The Jerusalem Post reported that US$570 million in business deals was conducted between Israel and the UAE within the first year since the normalisation agreements. The UAE-Israeli Business Council expects trade to reach US$1 billion for 2021 and in excess of US$3 billion within 3 years. “One cannot underestimate the power of a mutual desire for peace,” Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, the co-founder of the UAE-Israeli Business Council and Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, stated. That one cannot underestimate the power of profit would have been more truthful.
Meanwhile the PA is floundering in what has been described as its worst political and financial crisis yet, and the Biden Administration is attempting to halt any possibility of Palestinian unrest becoming strong enough to oust Abbas. While the current protests are tied to the extrajudicial killing of the prominent activist and PA critic Nizar Banat, the atrocity triggered decades of political discontent, and the PA’s response to the Abraham Accords was far from praiseworthy, given that Abbas voiced his disagreement while simultaneously attempted to engage diplomatically with the same international community that basked in what it deemed a step forward and progress towards the two-state compromise negotiations.
With the Abraham Accords, peace has been permanently relegated to oblivion. It is not that Palestinians will be forced to compromise as a result of the normalisation agreements with Israel, because the UN set the scene for compromise with the 1947 Partition Plan. Rather, the Accords have cemented the concept of peace without the Palestinian people, taking the two-state politics a step further than the UN has managed so far.
For the Palestinians, who do not even benefit from a leadership that is pro-Palestine, the loss is immense. The false equivalence between peace and negotiations which was entrenched in the two-state compromise is now attributed to the Abraham Accords, with the exclusion of the Palestinian people. The “deal of the century” may no longer be part of mainstream narratives on Palestine, given the Biden Administration’s façade of favouring the two-state politics over annexation, but its legacy is being protected by the US, and so will the normalisation agreements and their advancement.