Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Act as if Netanyahu Didn’t Exist  

For years, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been reiterating that Israel has no Palestinian partner it can make a deal with, and Western leaders, media institutions, and think-tanks found his claim compelling.

Today, after an international movement was precipitated by Saudi Arabia’s firm support for peace in the region, the United States, Britain, France, and the European Union are discussing the need to recognize a Palestinian state; the equation has changed.

Here is one example. Netanyahu claimed that "Israel absolutely rejects international diktats regarding the permanent arrangement with the Palestinians. Such an arrangement will be achieved only by direct negotiations between the parties, without preconditions. Israel will continue to oppose unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state."

In response, Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly hit back saying that Western countries have concluded that they did not have "a good dancing partner," in Israel.

The question, now, is: Would unilateral international recognition of the Palestinian state, even with Netanyahu's acquiescence, be beneficial or harmful? Opinions, of course, vary.

For instance, on "X," Aaron David Miller from Carnegie wrote: "The US will embrace Palestinian statehood freeing Netanyahu from the need to do so. And Netanyahu will agree to negotiate without preconditions. If these two things hold and the Administration buys off on it, we will truly have a key to an empty room."

The question then becomes: Where is the building, or the ground, in which "this empty room" is located? Ismail Haniyeh now says that Hamas would not accept any truce or ceasefire that does not include a complete halt to the war and full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

This means that the maps have been switched. Hamas is not more keen on regaining the territory it had controlled and governed, Gaza, than it is on creating a Palestinian state. We have been warned of this since the war began, and some disdainfully scoffed at our caution.

The truth is that we have now moved beyond Habib Bourguiba’s "Take and negotiate." The Palestinians are now in the phase of "prepare, and negotiate to take." This is the bind that Hamas has placed the Palestinians and the Palestinian cause in following its so-called "flood."

Thus, the Palestinians should act as if Netanyahu did not exist. Indeed, it is clear that his political career will inevitably soon end; his political life will end with the war in Gaza, and Israel’s divisions regarding his leadership and political future are real.

Today, Palestinians need to operate rationally and maintain cool heads if they are to strengthen the Canadian Foreign Minister’s assertion that Western countries "do not have a good dancing partner" in Israel and shorten Netanyahu's political lifespan.

Whether Biden or Trump wins the presidential election, the US and the West are now poised to recognize the Palestinian state. As they always have, they know they can rely on a strong Arab partner in resolving the Palestinian question, Saudi Arabia.

The question now, the million-dollar question: Is the goal to save Hamas and sacrifice Gaza, to save Gaza and its people, or to watch on like spectators without taking a decisive stance, thereby saving Netanyahu politically and squandering Gaza and this opportunity to build a Palestinian state?

My advice: Act as if Netanyahu did not exist... prepare, take, and negotiate.