NY Times worries Israel will make peace with Saudi Arabia and leave the 'Palestinians' in the coldleave the 'Palestinians' out in the cold.
The Israelis and the Saudis have reasons to work together. They share antipathy toward Iran, the leading Shiite-majority country. Both are worried about regional instability. Both are upset with the United States over the Iranian nuclear deal and other policies, including those dealing with Syria. For some time, Israeli and Saudi officials have been cooperating covertly on security and intelligence matters.
It’s hard to tell sometimes whether and through whom the Saudi royal family is speaking, and some analysts do not view General Eshki as a serious interlocutor. But his visit to Jerusalem, which included a meeting with members of Parliament, suggested a new Saudi openness to testing how the public in both countries would react to overt contacts.
Significantly, Saudi Arabia has also begun a media campaign in the kingdom, apparently to prepare its citizens for better relations with Israel.
In recent years, Israelis and Saudis have encountered each other often at academic and policy forums. In addition, Israel has established separate official channels of communication with Saudi Arabia, as well as with the United Arab Emirates, and these channels are considered “real and significant,” according to Daniel Levy, president of the U.S./Middle East Project.
Egypt has also been pursuing warmer ties with Israel. A week before the Saudi delegation arrived, Sameh Shoukry became the first foreign minister of Egypt to visit Israel in nine years. Although the two countries signed a peace treaty in 1979, the relationship never fulfilled its promise. However, ties have improved since Abdel Fattah el-Sisi became Egypt’s president in 2014, enabling greater security cooperation against Hamas in Gaza and the militants battling Egyptian troops in the Sinai.
Where does this leave the Palestinians? Both the Saudi and Egyptian visits were ostensibly aimed at promoting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, who have relied on the Sunni Arab states to advance their interests. General Eshki, for instance, talked of reviving the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which promised Israel normalized relations with the Arab League countries as part of a deal to end the Palestinian conflict.
Unfortunately, neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians show interest in serious peace talks. And there are reasons to doubt that the Palestinians are the Arab countries’ real focus. Mr. Netanyahu, in fact, has made clear his preference for improving relations with the Arab states first, saying Israel would then be in a stronger position to make peace with the Palestinians later on.
Of course, improved relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors do not preclude a Palestinian peace deal. The danger is that these countries will find more value in mending ties with each other and stop there, thus allowing Palestinian grievances, a source of regional tension for decades, to continue to fester.There's no danger there. The 'Palestinians' are an invention of the Arab states anyway.
In an interview given by Zuhair Mohsen to the Dutch newspaper Trouw in March 1977, Mr. Mohsen explains the origin of the 'Palestinians':It's long past time to acknowledge reality: There aren't going to be two states - a Jewish state of Israel and an Arab state of 'Palestine' living side-by-side in peace - unless the Arab state is the one known today as Jordan. The 'Palestinian grievances' can never be satisfied, and even the Arab states recognize today that they have more important things to do with Israel than try to dismember it by creating a 'right of return' for 'Palestinian refugees' who are non-citizens in weaker Arab countries like Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. There will be no 'right of return.'
- The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct "Palestinian people" to oppose Zionism.
- For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.
The 'Palestinians' who live within Israel (including Judea and Samaria) will either learn to accept reality and economic and political conditions in the State of Israel that are far better than those anywhere in the Arab world outside of the royal families of the Gulf, or they will leave for Western countries that are willing to have them (Frau Merkel?). And Israel will eventually have relations with Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and maybe even Qatar (which today is Hamas' biggest supporter) because economic realities dictate that those relationships will happen.
And the New York Times will go off crying into the sunset. Speedily and in our times.