The main thing you need to know about the normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates is that Iran, Turkey, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, IfNotNow, Jewish Voice for Peace, and other enemies of the Jewish state oppose it.
Opponents of the deal like to call it a “betrayal of the Palestinians.” It isn’t: rather, it’s a betrayal of the PLO and Hamas, organizations which are the worst thing to happen to Palestinian Arabs since the Nazi Mufti Amin al-Husseini.
Countries don’t have feelings and don’t form friendships. They have interests and form alliances in support of them. The PLO was created in 1964 by Nasser’s regime in order to promote Egyptian objectives, which were to conquer and annex as much as possible of the new state of Israel; later it came under the influence of the KGB, which employed it on behalf of Soviet interests in the region.
Neither Egypt, which forced Palestinian refugees into camps in 1948 (and to this day does not grant full Egyptian citizenship to Palestinians living in Egypt), nor the other Arab states and the Soviet Union, viewed Palestinian Arabs as anything other than a weapon to use against Israel, and the PLO, their creature, reflected this.
In 1982, the PLO was defeated by Israel and Maronite Christian forces in the First Lebanon War. But instead of being treated like the war criminals they were, the leadership of the PLO was allowed to flee under UN auspices to Tunisia. One would have thought that the PLO, removed from close contact with Palestinian Arabs, would lose influence and die out. But in 1987 there was a popular Palestinian uprising in the territories, the First Intifada, and PLO-connected groups managed to coopt and control it, brutally suppressing anti-PLO Palestinians as “collaborators.” The PLO made itself the de facto representative of the Palestinians in the territories.
And now Israel made one of her greatest mistakes since 1948, the Oslo Accords. Oslo created a “temporary” Palestinian Authority (PA) to govern the territories until a final status agreement could be made, which of course never happened. But the PA, in essence the PLO, still controls the parts of Judea and Samaria where most Palestinians live. In Gaza, the PLO was overthrown by a violent coup by Hamas in 2005.
Both the PA and Hamas function as dictatorships (the PA is supposed to be democratic, but hasn’t held an election since 2005). Both are supported by large amounts of foreign money via UNRWA and other sources. They are both massively corrupt; “connected” Palestinians live like kings, while most of the population lacks basic needs. Both maintain their maximalist demands against Israel, which have kept the conflict simmering with intermittent boiling over into large-scale violence – the Second Intifada and multiple Gaza conflicts. And both have created educational and media systems that teach their youth to hate Jews and Israelis enough that even children have become capable of murdering Jews at random in the streets.
The PLO and Hamas depend on the conflict as an excuse for their dictatorial control, and for much of their foreign money. It’s their reason for being. So there can be no “normalization” of relations between Palestinian Arabs and Jews on their watch. The conflict must go on. And this has been bolstered by almost universal Arab and Muslim solidarity – until today.
The peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan called for some degree of normalization, but these aspects have not been realized. The peace has been “cold” from the beginning. This isn’t an accident. Indeed the growth of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel expression in Egypt and Jordan – which sometimes bursts out in murderous incidents – ensures that there will not be normalization in the near future. Like the PLO, the leadership of these countries has been prepared to compromise to some extent to achieve the practical benefits of non-belligerence; but they have not rejected the destruction of Jewish sovereignty as an ultimate objective.
The negotiations with the UAE, on the other hand, at least at this point, seem to express a wholly different spirit, one in which actual normalization and not just non-belligerence seems to be the goal. Nothing could infuriate the Palestinian leadership more, since their unhappy subjects will see, for the first time, that the option of unending hostility is not the only choice. If other Arab nations join in as expected, it will be even more persuasive.
Naturally, the Iranian and Turkish regimes (correctly) see these developments as the creation of an economic and military alliance that opposes their geopolitical ambitions. But what about Jewish Voice for Peace, IfNotNow, and similar Western leftist groups? How can we understand their opposition to what is, after all, a movement in the direction of reducing conflict, perhaps a movement that will ultimately lead to the long-desired end of the Israeli-Arab conflict?
It’s simple. They say they are concerned for the welfare of the Palestinian people, but that is not true, and never has been true. The welfare of the Palestinians would best be served by the replacement of the PLO and Hamas by less corrupt leaders that would favor normalization and closer cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis. There is no doubt that if instead of paying terrorists to murder Jews, Palestinian leaders worked together with Israelis to develop economic alternatives to the international dole, the lives of ordinary Palestinians would be greatly improved. I am sure that many Palestinians already think so, but are afraid to publicly say it in the face of PLO and Hamas repression.
IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace – and countless other such organizations – have as their objective the elimination of the Jewish state, not the welfare of Palestinians. For that reason, they support BDS, the PLO and Hamas. They are supported financially by anti-Israel sources (see here and here) like the massive Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Their opposition to normalization exposes them for what they are.
One doesn’t want to be too optimistic at this early stage. It can be noted that there will probably be a backlash from religiously conservative elements against Jewish sovereignty anywhere in the region. It can be argued that the apparent rapprochement between Israel and some Sunni Arab states is nothing more than a temporary alliance against Iran. But I don’t think so. I think there is beginning to be an understanding, at least on the part of some Arabs, that the continued demonization of Israel does not serve their long-term interests. And the possibilities for the future are breathtaking.