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Does the Closure of the Palestinian Embassy End the Palestinian Cause?

Does the Closure of the Palestinian Embassy End the Palestinian Cause?

Tuesday, 18 September, 2018 - 09:30
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad.

The red building on Wisconsin Avenue in Washington DC was, until a few days ago, the headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) delegation, ie, the embassy of the “state” of Palestine, in the United States. It had a politically important symbolic value that was eliminated when the US State Department notified the Palestinian mission to close its doors completely and asked the head of the mission, Husam Zomlot, to leave the country with his family.

The presence of a Palestinian diplomatic mission in America was the result of the Oslo Accords, which recognized the existence of Palestine and gave it international recognition for the first time. Despite the criticism leveled against it, Oslo was a historic political project that brought the PLO back to life after it was buried, together with the Palestinian cause, as a result of the expulsion of the Palestinian leadership by sea from Beirut to Tunisia.

Oslo failed because extremist regional regimes and extremists on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides aborted the few available opportunities to solve the Palestinian issue.

Ever since the beginning of the conflict, everyone has known that the Palestinian cause can only be resolved through one of two things: war, the possibility of which has become imminent, or negotiation. Because of the lack of realism of the Palestinian leaders, they came late to negotiations, which left very little for the Palestinians. With the passage of time, Palestinian rights were eroded on the ground because of the continued rejection and verbal exaggerations.

The Palestinian leadership, apart from the state of despair in which it has been living for years, has not understood the personality of the current US President, Donald Trump. One of his acquaintances warned at the beginning of his presidency: Try to understand how to differ with him, or he may throw you under the bus! This is what has happened to Abu Mazen, whose friends are now rushing to get him out from under the bus. One of the mistakes made by the Palestinian leadership is that it tried confrontation, but forgot that the US government has a great influence on Palestinian activities. It is the largest donor to the refugees and their organization, UNRWA, with about a quarter of a billion dollars a year. When the envoys came from President Trump to the occupied Palestinian territories to explain their ideas, the Palestinian leadership refused to receive them.

They were angry that the US government had activated an old decision by Congress to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Of course, we understand the anger of the Palestinian Authority, but the opposite should have happened. The Palestinians should have insisted on meeting the American delegations, not rejecting them. The right thing to do is to sit down and talk about the problem. We all know that the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, is a pragmatic politician who has long experience in dealing with internal and external problems — that is why he is still in power. He was able to confront opponents such as Hamas with minimal damage. Although he hates the adoption of high-risk political projects, he knows that the United States, after Israel, is the country that most affects the lives of his citizens, negatively or positively.

Of course, it is possible that there is an intention to liquidate the Palestinian cause, by abolishing the status of “refugees” at the United Nations, stopping their budget, decreasing the PA’s support and ending its diplomatic presence. All this is very likely, and it is the product of the inactivity and failure to manage past peace projects over 30 years. Naturally, a day will come when the remaining positions will be settled. One of the main mistakes is the belief that Palestine is a central issue that will not be abandoned by Arabs and Muslims. The truth is that they abandoned it a long time ago. Every nation is preoccupied with its own issues. Egypt has made its decision since the Camp David Accords, and so has Jordan since the Wadi Araba Treaty. In fact, Syria had signed the Agreement on Disengagement before them, after the 1973 war, and the Golan became the most secure border area for Israel. Lebanon is a helpless country that is ruled by Iran; otherwise, it would have been the first Arab country to seek a peace agreement with Israel.

This is the reality that Arab dreamers need to realize. It is this reality that prompted the late Yasser Arafat to sign the Oslo Accords — otherwise he and all other Palestinian leaders would have lived, and been buried, abroad.

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