Peace-Making in the Middle East: “Normalization” with…without Palestine?
Abstract: Under the “Trump Deal”, the recent brand of normalization of one-Arab-state-at-a-time with Israel has neglected issues of Palestinian justice and right to statehood. This paper argues that these glaring omissions, solely beneficial to Israel, have inherent negative implications on peace-making. Thus, the “Trump Deal” signifies a manifestation of a visibly uneven foreign policy in the Arab-Israeli conflict. In this analysis, recent Arab “normalizers” with Israel skip moralistic positions having to do with re-cognition of Palestinian dispossession and Palestinians as the key interlocutors in any peace in the Middle East. In this Trump-Kushner-led “reset” of US foreign policy, peace-making targets non-democratic and/or weak states to widen partnership with Israel that tend to do away with the longstanding principle of land-for-peace. Rather, the intent seems to be to exclude the Palestinians and dilute what were the key foundations of conflict resolution between the Israelis and Palestinians, namely UN resolutions.
Keywords: normalization, Abraham Accords, peace-making, Deal of the Century, Oslo Accords, Bahrain, Israel, UAE
Recent decades, beginning with the Egypt-Israel peace treaty in 1979 following the Camp David Accords, have witnessed a gradual yet unofficial movement towards ‘normalization’ between Israel and its Arab neighbors. However, for Egypt, followed by Jordan in 1994, the end of an official state of war has often felt like a cold peace. Meanwhile, Palestinian struggles for a nation-state have been eclipsed since the failure of the Oslo Accords. Yasser Arafat and Palestinian Liberation Organization’s gamble for a limited, although eventually full, sovereign state did not pay off. Since the concluding of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the two-state solution has edged farther away with each successive American and Israeli governments in power. Current efforts by the Trump administration to resolve the question of Palestinian have fallen short of a sovereign state for Palestinians. Instead, continued economic and political dependency on Israel and the concluding of peace agreements with the hawks of the Middle East dominate the agenda of Trump’s senior advisor Jared Kushner, also his son-in-law, and his shuttle diplomacy between the region’s capitals. Palestinian aspirations for a state have been ignored. The “Deal of the Century” (the “Trump Deal”) and newly signed normalization agreements with Israel have effectively sidelined Palestine not only in the international community but also at the Arab League. This article attempts to raise questions about how the Palestinians’ right to a just peace torn between faction-alization and fiction-alization. These dialectics have a bearing on construction of justice and “truth”.