The recent rant by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas – about how European Jews were not targeted by Hitler because they were Jews but “because of their role in society, which had to do with usury, money, and so on” – certainly sent the message to Israel that if there will ever be a time for territorial agreement with the Palestinians, now is not it.
Not only does the avowedly terrorist group Hamas continue to vie for power with the more low-key but still murderous Fatah, making anything agreed upon tenuous at best, but Abbas himself continues to rally all Palestinians to the theme that Jews historically did not enjoy legitimacy as a people, even positing that Jews themselves provoked the arch villain of history into committing mankind’s greatest crime.
Why would Abbas continue on this counterproductive road? Perhaps he was once again blinded by his hatred of Jews; he has infamously made a habit of minimizing the scope of the Holocaust. Perhaps he was playing to his Arab brothers, who are moving ever closer to normalizing relations with Israel, to persuade them that their newfound friends are really the villains of history and not the gatekeepers to a brighter future for the region.
Perhaps most importantly, it should not be lost on Israel’s Arab neighbors that Abbas has plainly acted against their direct interests, whatever the reason. As we have noted several times in the past, the days of the primacy of oil in our lives is ineluctably drawing to a close. Unless properly prepared, the economies of the oil-producing Arab world will be devastated and Arab governments as we have known them will crumble.
The political leadership of the Arab world, led by Saudi Arabia, knows this; and they are looking to Israel, with its remarkable leadership in scientific, technological, industrial, and agricultural development, as their ticket into the 21st century. Prompt normalization with Israel would appear the way to go, to such an extent that Arab states have been hinting that they are prepared to move forward despite the fact that the Israel-Palestinian conflict, which for almost half a century was the the professed sine qua non of Arab rapprochement with Israel, has not been resolved.
It is instructive that, while there is still residual sentiment for a Palestinian state amongst the Arabs, slowly but surely it has receded as a veto issue. It has actually been the Biden administration that has become the main promoter of the establishment of a Palestinian state as a necessary element of a Middle East peace deal.
Abbas’s grotesque comments about the Holocaust should persuade the Saudis and other Arab states that it is time to unequivocally cut the Palestinians off. Abbas just signaled that he and the Palestinians don’t really care about the interests of the rest of the Arab world. That world should respond in kind.