Despite 70 years of lingering conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, recently there has been talk in the US and in the region of an “ultimate deal,” which is believed to be necessary to find a way out of the current conflicts in the region. It is the best choice — though its terms and blueprint are as clear as mud. Would the Israelis give back the Palestinians their usurped rights? Would the Israelis allow the resettlement of refugees? Would the Israelis allow the Palestinians a share in Jerusalem? These are unanswered questions, among others, and rumors surrounding this opaque deal have surfaced once again with the secret visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Muscat. He was received by Sultan Qaboos.
Without a shadow of a doubt, a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — the root of all differences in the region — deserves every bit of our attention and all efforts possible to make it happen. However, self-centered ambitions and rivalries for regional prominence have dominated the peace process from the very beginning.
Almost all countries, as well as different factions, have been using the Palestinian card to serve their ideological and political projects. Actually, they do not want to end this conflict, protecting their trump card that they have been using for decades. The Iranians have used this conflict in their expansionist-terrorist activities and in creating militias under the slogan of “resistance” against the “Israeli entity” to return lost rights to the Palestinians. The bitter irony is that the Iranians — just like the Israelis — have thwarted all Arab peace initiatives since 1982, including the initiative of the late Saudi King Abdullah.
The Turks have trodden the same path as the Iranians. They have used emotive rhetoric in which they have shown support and solidarity with the Palestinians, but their economic, military and political relations with the Israelis are noticeably growing. They have stirred public emotions with their emotive language, especially those of political Islamists, to get their support and loyalty. Both the Turks and Iranians share one dream: Reviving their collapsed empires — the Ottoman and the Persian, respectively. To make their dreams come true, they both have and continue to use the Palestinian card, but in different ways.
The terrorist groups do not want to end the conflict or liberate Palestine. Despite Israel, according to their sayings, being their No. 1 enemy, they have not shot one bullet against it. They use Palestine to target and attract the passionate and angry young men from across the Arab and Islamic worlds.
The Muslim Brotherhood has applied an emotive rhetorical strategy when talking about Palestine. It is supported and sponsored by some Arab countries, as well as having received support from some American administrations that — at the same time — support Israel in its building of settlements and its attacks on holy Islamic sites and unarmed Palestinians.
The Europeans, though they sometimes criticize Israeli policies, support Tel Aviv, maybe in penance for what happened to the Jews before and after World War II.
The question to be raised here is: What does the “ultimate deal” offer? What would the most affected side in this cause get? I mean here the Palestinians, with all of their different political groups, which are usually in robust competition with one another.
Let’s think about this logically. The West and Israel will not come up with a satisfactory solution for those parties that strongly want to resolve this dilemma, leading to a permanent Arab-Israeli peace settlement.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has always been at the top of the Arab agenda despite all the wars, instigated by certain countries and groups, which have jeopardized Arab national security. And yet, despite Israeli stonewalling, this cause will remain core to Arab attention, sharpening the future of regional security.
The Iranians have used this conflict in their expansionist-terrorist activities and in creating militias under the slogan of “resistance” against the “Israeli entity” to return lost rights to the Palestinians.
Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami
There are some countries that seek to forge rapprochement with the West and to reap political gains by using Palestine, but eventually they will hit rock bottom. The collective memory of political events that the Arabs have will not permit them to forget how this cause has been badly exploited.
Saudi Arabia has been accused of being a broker in the “ultimate deal.” Over the course of history, the Saudis have never sought to reap political gains, especially from the Palestinian cause. The present, aggressive media campaign against Saudi Arabia — particularly exploiting a murder in which the perpetrators have been identified and are being brought to justice — is because of the Kingdom’s decisive positions in the region, particularly on Palestine and Iran, as well as its humanitarian leadership. The Saudis realize that the plotters and planners behind closed doors will be revealed to the public eventually; and this will cause them to lose their pioneering role in the Arab and Islamic world and thwart hopes invested in them.
In a nutshell, the reliable Arab countries have maintained a steadfast position toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and are seeking to find a fair and comprehensive solution granting the Palestinians their legitimate right of return and an independent state on their land. They won’t run after false promises that will fade away and pull them back to square one. The Western powers, looking for a comprehensive and everlasting peace for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and in the Middle East, should place further pressure on Israel to accept the key terms in the shelved Arab peace initiative, and make any financial and political support to Israel conditional on its flexibility to reach a satisfactory solution to the conflict. As an Arab, I doubt they are serious in making peace. I hope I am mistaken. But I am quite sure the suffering and the blood of the Palestinians is an everlasting curse.
- Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami is Head of the International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasanah). Twitter: @mohalsulami