Photo Credit: Michal Fattal/Flash90
Mohammed Dahlan in Ramallah, December 16, 2006.

The Arab League on Wednesday rejected a Palestinian Authority demand to condemn the peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, the Abraham Accord, soon to be signed on the White House lawn. The PA wanted the League to censure both Israel and the UAE, but a Zoom session of foreign ministers from the 22 member countries voted the proposal down. Meanwhile, major Arab countries such as Egypt, Omar and Bahrain have gone on the record as supporting the accord and others, like Saudi Arabia, have expressed their tacit approval.

PA officials protested bitterly, saying the normalization of relations with the Zionists violates the Saudi Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, which was adopted by the Arab League, and called for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders. But no one was listening. The Arab have had it up to here with the “Palestinians.”

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The Lebanese Al Mayadeen channel reported that the Secretary General of the PLO Executive Committee, Saeb Erekat, threatened to resign from the Arab League if the peace agreement between passes without condemnation. Egypt and Jordan apparently promised Erekat that the Arab League would send a message of support to the “Palestinians,” which never happened.

Al Mayadeen said the PA is facing a powerful front within the Arab League supporting the deal, including Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states of Morocco Sudan and Oman.

Which is why Islamic Jihad Politburo member Muhammad al-Hindi called on the Palestinian Authority to withdraw from the Arab League immediately: “The Arab League today represents states that abandon Palestine, embrace Israel and refuse to condemn normalization. They do not represent the people who are loyal to Palestine,” he said.

And he is right. The game may not be over for the PA and Gaza Arabs, but it is morphing rapidly and both groups, in Gaza and in Ramallah, are being left behind.

According to an op-ed in Al Akhbar, “everything changed in two distinct phases: the first in 2011 when Mohammed Dahlan left Fatah to Abu Dhabi, and the second with the blockade of Qatar in 2017, when the time for courtesies ended and Hamas had to choose between two axes in the Gulf.

“In the first stage, Dahlan worked to gain the confidence of the Zayed family until it caused the deterioration of the relationship between them and the Palestinian Authority to the point of severing the relationship in 2014,” notes Al Akhbar.

Mohammed Dahlan, 59, born in the Khan Yunis Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip, is most likely to replace Mahmoud Abbas as leader of the PA. In 1981 he helped establish the Gaza branch of the Fatah Youth Movement, Fatah Hawks. Between 1981 and 1986, he was arrested by Israel 11 times for his leading role in the movement. During his time in prison he learned to speak Hebrew fluently. Dahlan headed the PA Preventive Security Force in Gaza after the signing of the Oslo Accords. He built up a force of 20,000 men, making him one of the most powerful PA leaders. And he dealt regularly with the CIA and with Israeli Intelligence.

In July 2007, after Hamas had taken over the Gaza Strip and kicked out the PA, Dahlan resigned – not that anybody cared. In June 2011, Dahlan was expelled from Fatah because of repeated claims by Chairman Mahmoud Abbas that he had murdered Yasser Arafat. He moved to Dubai, where, according to Hamas officials, he began to collaborate with the Israelis against Hamas agents.

Al Akhbar and many others believe Dahlan will get the PA and Gaza Arabs beyond the 150-year stalemate with the Zionists because he may be the only leader on the local scene who can recognize Israel and reach a compromise on territory without getting assassinated. He will also charm Israelis because he speaks their language, and so he is the one Arab leader capable of removing the territorial candy from the clutches of the Israeli baby.

Al Akhbar sees the Saudi-led boycott of Qatar because it was a clear sign that the Saudis—like all the other oil rich gulf states, saw Iran – and its agent provocateur, the media giant Al Jazeera, funded and operated by the rulers of Qatar – as the real enemy. Not Israel. In fact, over the past twenty years, the oil rich states, which have the most to lose from Iran’s expansionism, have begun to view Israel, alongside the US, as their real ally in the fight against the Islamic Republic.

And both those factors, the grooming of Muhammad Dahlan and the gulf states’ turning to Israel for protection against Iran, have fallen on the PLO and Hamas like a ton of bricks last month, when they realized their only friends in the world are the ayatollahs and the Sultan of Turkey.

Hanan Ashrawi / Miriam Alster/FLASH90 

Here’s an example of the complete loss of influence on the part of Ramallah: Hanan Ashrawi, another member of the Executive Committee of the PLO, issued a statement Thursday, saying that Israel’s approval of its provisional budget was evidence of its willful steps to finalize the de facto annexation of “occupied Palestinian land.”

“Among the announced Israeli budget priorities is accelerating the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from so-called Area C, which comprises 60% of the West Bank, stepping up land grab and increasing the expansion of illegal settlement, as well as plundering Palestinian archeological sites to complete the cultural appropriation of Palestine and its history,” Ashrawi noted, adding: “This is a budget focused on pillaging and plundering Palestine, its natural resources, its land, its historical sites, and cultural narrative. In addition to being such a clear proclamation of the intent to carry out war crimes, the Israeli government’s approved budget is a slap in the face to states that have preferred to delude themselves into believing the ‘suspension of annexation’ ruse.”

Ashrawi’s facts may or may not be accurate, Lord knows Israeli settlers wish PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s government would really be engaged stepping up the “land grab.” Alas, Bibi’s heart is not in it, as he continues to break his promises to his Religious Zionist supporters. But that’s not the point. The point is that in the past, the aging anti-Semite Ashrawi’s accusations would have been heralded by the Arab League and maybe even put on the UN General Assembly’s agenda for a vote condemning Zionist plundering. Today those rousing accusations receive nothing but crickets. No one cares.

And that may be the true benefit of the Abraham Accord, and why President Donald Trump who pushed for it may deserve the Nobel Peace prize for real. It’s true that making peace between two countries that never fought one another and have been engaged over the past twenty years in security and commercial cooperation was not an astonishing feat. But robbing the gangsters in Ramallah and in Gaza of their clout in the Arab wold is huge.

And then we’ll have to deal with Mohammed Dahlan, which is a different issue altogether.

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