By Andrew Tucker, Director, thinc.
Israeli-Saudi normalization should not be made conditional on Palestinian statehood
As part of the realignment of its global position, the United States is negotiating with Saudi Arabia in the hope of achieving an “Abraham Accord” between the Saudi monarchy and Israel. Israel is being pressured to accept the establishment of a Palestinian state as a condition for “normalization” of relations with the Saudis.
However the idea of a fully-fledged Palestinian state living in peace side-by-side with Israel is an illusion. Ever since the 1970s, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) has received billions of dollars in foreign aid to establish an independent, viable and peaceful Palestinian state, and has failed to do so.
To this day, the PLO continues to refuse to recognize Israel as a legitimate state, and to engage in normal diplomatic cooperation with it. This attitude of rejection was the main reason that the various attempts to negotiate a final status agreement since the Oslo Accords (2000/2001, 2008 and 2014) failed. The PLO and PA participate actively with UN member states in initiatives through United Nations institutions, such as the UN Human Rights Council, to delegitimize the Jewish State of Israel to condemn Israel as guilty of human rights violations and war crimes, and as being racist and apartheid in essence. All Palestinian organizations (including the PLO) claim that the Jewish State of Israel is illegitimate, that Palestine (including Israeli land west of the Green Line to the Mediterranean coast) must be ‘liberated’, and that they are legally entitled to use force to achieve these claims.
Palestinian society is based on strong families and clans, mostly bound to a traditional religious Islamic and Arabic culture of honor on local and regional level, which generate patronage as a general model of authority. Leadership is constructed from the top down without republican or democratic elements, through politically centralized organizations. The Palestinian way of life in the West Bank never included state-building in the sense of a state along Western lines based on freedom and the rule of law.
The reality is that the heartbeat of Palestinian politics throbs with the wish to destroy Israel. This is stimulated by the UNRWA system’s promise of a “right of return” and the ongoing insistence of international anti-Zionist actors that Israel is illegitimate. The common core element of the various groups constituting the PLO (Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and others), Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and similar groups, is their declared political program to annihilate the State of Israel. This is evidenced by their political charters, deliberately ambiguous and conflicting territorial claims, education of children, TV programs, newspapers, military organizations, and political declarations in Arabic language. Hamas, governing the Gaza Strip since 2006, attacked Israel in 2008/2009, in 2012, in 2014, in 2021 and in 2022.
The Palestine National Charter (as amended in 1968) denies the existence of the State of Israel and calls on “armed Palestinian revolution” to liberate the whole of Palestine. For more than 30 years, polls have shown that Palestinian majorities believe the destruction of Israel will be achieved in the future and even within a matter of years. A common thread runs through the anti-Jewish massacres one hundred years ago, the antisemitic actions of the Mufti of Jerusalem cooperating closely with German National Socialism, the 1948/9, 1967 and 1973 wars against Israel, and thousands of terrorist attacks against Israel since the 1950s, to the present-day attacks on Israeli citizens by young radicalized Palestinian terrorists.
Palestinian political culture
Palestinian political culture is driven by a heroic ideal of fighting against real or imagined humiliation. It is rooted in the accusation of injustice and dispossession and holds close to extremist religious traditions.
The political aims of the Palestinian majority are documented in numerous polls since around 1990. In every poll those wishing to destroy the state of Israel gain a strong majority, more than 60% of the Palestinians in the West Bank say that the destruction of Israel is their preferred political outcome. Those preferring peace and acceptance of the Israel gain percentages between 6% and 35%. In general, Palestinians reject a right of Jews to live in the West Bank and in a Palestinian state. Jews shall have no place, just as there are none today in the Gaza Strip.
Aming at the destruction of Israel
All of this means that as long as the political basis of Palestinian society remains the destruction of Israel, there will never be a peaceful Palestinian state in the West Bank alongside the Jewish State of Israel.
Under these circumstances Israel cannot be expected to tolerate the coming into existence of a Palestinian state overlooking its longest border and main population centers, poised to destroy the Jewish population.
Instead of insisting that Israel accept Palestinian statehood, as the price for Saudi normalization of relations with Israel, Western nations like the US, EU member states, Australia and New Zealand should insist that the Saudi’s first require the Palestinians to cultivate a legal and social culture based on personal liberty and equality, and normalization of relations with Israel.
For more information see our report: “Two States for Two Peoples?”
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The Hague Initiative for International Cooperation (thinc.) promotes the rule of law to advance security and cooperation in the Middle East.