Ron Cantor —  September 11, 2020

In a major blow to the Palestinians, the Arab League voted not to condemn the United Arab Emirates for a normalization deal with Israel, announced by U.S. President Donald Trump on Aug. 13. The resolution was proposed by the Palestinian Authority. Debate lasted three hours and “some Arab countries refused to include [a] statement condemning [the UAE] for abandoning Arab decisions,” Palestinian Authority Representative to the Arab League Muhannad al-Aklouk told Ma’an News. The controversial draft was dropped.

Secretary-general of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, stressed the Palestinian solution that all Arab countries seek “is to end the [Israeli] occupation and establish an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.” But, he added, it is the “indisputable right of each country to have sovereignty in conducting its foreign policy in the way it sees fit.”

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that if Aboul Gheit refuses to condemn the UAE-Israel treaty he should to resign. Palestinians were expected to soften their stance, but in the end PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki refused to do so. “This meeting must release a decision rejecting this step. Otherwise, we will be seen as giving it our blessing, or conspiring with it, or attempting to cover it up,” al-Maliki said.

UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash emphasized that their decision to normalize with Israel was a “sovereign” decision made out of strategic interests and that rather than bing at the expense of Palestinians, it managed to stop (slow down…RD) Israel’s annexation plans in the West Bank. Some Arab states, including Egypt and Bahrain, have expressed support for the deal, which will be signed next week in Washington. The Saudi foreign minister meanwhile pledged their support for the Palestinian cause, but stopped short of criticizing the UAE.

Senior PA official Hussein al-Sheikh called the Arab League’s failure to condemn the normalization deal “the triumph of money over dignity.” “The Arab League has not produced anything. It has given the entire region condemnations of everyone ad nauseum — except for Israel. This is a thunderous collapse, the use of ‘national sovereignty’ to justify subservience,” al-Sheikh said.