(November 12, 2020 / JNS) Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who died on Monday, was laid to rest in Jericho on Wednesday afternoon, while elsewhere in the Palestinian Authority, Palestinians marked the 16th anniversary of the death of former PLO chairman Yasser Arafat.
Arafat is widely credited for making the Palestinian issue a part of the international community’s agenda, complete with the Palestinian demand that any future state would include eastern Jerusalem as its capital.
It was Arafat who put forward the demand for a just solution for hundreds of thousands of second- and third-generation Palestinian refugees living anywhere in the world, as well as for those living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
One has to wonder whether, under Arafat, the Palestinian leadership would have acted differently following the 1993 Oslo Accords, which Erekat helped outline? Could his leadership have guaranteed the millions of Palestinians living in the territories a comfortable life in an independent state?
Quite a few academics, politicians, military officials and defense experts past and present have tried to answer this question, but it seems that the issue will stand—at least until a just and fair solution is found to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The recent Abraham Accords can serve as a prism through which the issue can be reviewed as it would be through Palestinian and Arab eyes.
Mere days after the Abraham Accords were inked, P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas demanded that the Arab League convene an urgent session and pass a resolution condemning the agreements, which he claimed made no mention of the Palestinian issue.
Arafat expressed similar anger when Egypt signed the peace agreement with Israel in the late 1970s.
The Palestinians also fumed because, in something of a break from policy, Arab rulers did not rush to condemn the Abraham Accords or sympathize with the Palestinian sense of victimhood. The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan were not shunned by the Arab League as Egypt was in the wake of the 1979 peace deal.
Moreover, the majority of Arab nations did not protest the deals, nor did they rush to defend the “national Palestinian interest.”
The Palestinian leadership, from Arafat to Abbas, has failed to read the map of regional inserts. Arab states are looking to the future; only the Palestinian issue remains entrenched in the past.
Current Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit tried to allay the Palestinian fury over the League’s indifference, by pointing to the fact that the deal sought to prevent Israel’s plan to extend sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley from taking place.
He suggested that, given the new regional circumstances, the Palestinians resume peace talks with Israel, regardless of whether U.S. President Donald Trump is reelected.
The Palestinians refused to listen. Erekat even called on Gheit to resign over his “disgraceful and criminal support of the Abraham Accords.”
So, in fact, the man rushed to an Israeli hospital in critical condition, where doctors fought for his life for more than three weeks, had actively attempted to undermine the Abraham Accords, all while successfully selling the Israeli left on his image as a peace-loving ideologue.
Perhaps it was no coincidence that the Palestinians chose the anniversary of Arafat’s death to bury Erekat—the chief negotiator with Israel.
If the Palestinians truly seek a just, lasting peace—one that would make the Middle East a better place—then they would be wise to bury their obstinacy as well. The continued lack of pragmatism will get them nowhere.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.
Support Jewish Journalism
with 2020 Vision
One of the most intriguing stories of the sudden Coronavirus crisis is the role of the internet. With individuals forced into home quarantine, most are turning further online for information, education and social interaction.
JNS's influence and readership are growing exponentially, and our positioning sets us apart. Most Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas. JNS is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.
During this crisis, JNS continues working overtime. We are being relied upon to tell the story of this crisis as it affects Israel and the global Jewish community, and explain the extraordinary political developments taking place in parallel.
Our ability to thrive in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters. Monthly donations in particular go a long way in helping us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make during these challenging times. We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you blessings for good health and peace of mind.