Will the Palestinians miss their last opportunity?

Robert A. Cohn

In the midst of the relentless COVID-19 pandemic, a bitterly divisive election campaign and vicious natural disasters and social justice protests that have at times turned violent, it is not surprising that the full normalization of ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain has been pushed off the front pages or dismissed as a “distraction.” 

In fact, the Israel-Bahrain-UAE agreement is genuinely a Big Deal that deserves praise as noted by Thomas L. Friedman, the veteran foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times. Friedman, a severe critic of President Donald Trump, welcomed the deals and the roles Trump and his senior adviser (and son-in-law) Jared Kushner played in brokering the historic Abraham Accords, named in honor of the shared Patriarch of Judaism and Islam. The deals brought out in the open the tacit agreements between Israel and the Gulf States whose leaders realize the advantage of positive relationships with the Jewish State and that they have a common adversary in Iran.  

Other Arab states are expected to come aboard the peace coalition including Saudi Arabia, Morocco and even Sudan. In August 1967, two months after Israel’s stunning victory in the Six-Day War, Sudan hosted a summit meeting in Khartoum of the 22-member League of Arab States, which unanimously rejected Israel’s offer to make peace.  The Arab League responded with its infamous Khartoum statement of  “Three No’s—no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations with Israel.” The Arab League also resolved that the Palestinians gain control of “all of Palestine.” 

Fast forward to August 2020 when the same Arab League rejected a Palestinian demand to denounce the Israel-UAE-Bahrain deals as a “betrayal” of the Palestinians. The Arab League has finally embraced enlightened self-interest and will nolonger let Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas block the path to peace.  

There is still time for Abbas to grasp the olive branch.  All of the parties still affirm support for a two-state solution. 

The late former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban famously said, “The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”  

The peace train has already left the station, Mr. Abbas. Climb aboard or miss what could be your last opportunity. 

Robert A. Cohn is Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of the St. Louis Jewish Light.