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Palestine exits Arab League amidst mounting protests over Israel deal

  • The Palestinian Authority has formally stepped down from a key role in the Arab League, and widely rejected President Trump’s proposals, stating that it would destroy their hopes of attaining a viable independent state.
Updated 23 Sep 2020

RAMALLAH: In a response to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain normalising their ties with Israel, the Palestinian Authority has formally stepped down from a key role in the Arab League.

Foreign Minister Riyad-al-Maliki stated that the failure of the 22-member regional bloc to condemn member nations, and their “betrayal” of the Palestinian cause, was dishonourable and termed the normalisation of relations as “a regression in values and principles”.

The United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain signed deals in Washington on September 15, which despite being hailed as “the dawn of the new Middle East” by the Trump Administration, drew criticism from the Palestinians - seen as a serious blow to their efforts to end illegal Israeli occupation and achieve an independent state.

Palestine was expected to chair the Arab League for the next six months, but Maliki stated yesterday in a press conference, “Palestine has decided to concede its right to chair the League's council [of foreign ministers] at its current session. There is no honour in seeing Arabs rush towards normalisation during its presidency”.

Earlier this month, the Palestinian Authority failed to persuade the Arab League to formally condemn member nations for breaking ranks.

Arab and Gulf states gravitating towards normalising relations with Israel have been contingent upon their hostile relations with Iran, and their concerns over their alleged involvement in funding terrorist groups in conflict-prone regions to undermine Arab influence.

Furthermore, since the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw the United States from the JCPOA in May 2018, there has been a concerted effort mounted against the Iranian regime, with historically prevalent sectarian rivalries driving the Gulf-Arab states aligning themselves with American interests.

While strong relations with Israel have remained a focal point of American foreign policy in the Middle East, the Trump Administration has taken it a step further by controversially recognising Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, shifting the U.S Embassy to the historic city, and unveiling a noticeably Israel-centric Middle East Peace Plan. The Palestinian Authority has widely rejected President Trump’s proposals, stating that it would destroy their hopes of attaining a viable independent state.

While Arab countries have long demanded Israel’s withdrawal from illegally occupied settlements in exchange for establishing ties, the alienation of the Palestinian leadership has led to reconciliation talks being held between President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leadership in Ankara on Tuesday - with President Racip Tayyip Erdogan furthering Turkey’s strategic ambitions in the region.

While the Trump Administration has touted this normalisation of relations as a landmark diplomatic achievement, critics have described this as a step in the wrong direction, and the lack of response from international bodies such as the United Nations, as stated today by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, is “the organization’s most glaring and long-standing failures”.