Monday, November 02, 2015

Is the Palestinian issue a crown jewel of Arab policy makers?

By Ambassador (ret) Yoram Ettinger
1. Western policy-makers and media are preoccupied with Palestinian terrorism/unrest, but Arab policy-makers and media are preoccupied with regional sandstorms, not with the Palestinian tumbleweed. The myth of Palestinian centrality is promoted by Arab talk, but not Arab walk.  The Arabs have never considered the Palestinian issue a top priority, the crux of their conflict with Israel, nor the core cause of regional turbulence. However, they adhere to the ancient Arab colloquialism: "on words one does not pay customs."
2.  In 2015, Egyptian President Al-Sisi – just like other pro-US Arab leaders –expands cooperation with Israel in defiance of Palestinian opposition.
3. In 2014, Arab regimes supported Israel’s war on Palestinian terrorism, which also haunts their own homeland security. 
4.  During 1977-79, President Sadat defied President Carter's insistence upon placing the Palestinian issue at the center of the Egypt-Israel peace process.  Sadat was convinced that a Palestinian state would undermine regional stability.  During the October 1994 Israel-Jordan peace signing ceremony, Jordanian military leaders told their Israeli counterparts that "a Palestinian state would doom the Hashemite Kingdom."
5. According to a July, 2014 study by the Congressional Research Service,generous Arab pledges to the Palestinians are largely unfulfilled. The annualUS foreign aid to the Palestinians ($400mn) – financing hate-education and terrorism - is higher than the aid provided by Saudi Arabia - $260mn, the UAE - $50mn and Kuwait - $50mn
6. At the same time, Saudi Arabia and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) extended in 2015 $20bn assistance to Egypt and in 2006-7 $2.5bn aid to Lebanon. During 1980-1988, Riyadh provided $1bn annually to the Muslim rebels in Afghanistan, but only $100MN annually to the PLO, reflecting the Saudi order of priorities.  
7.  Why have Arabs showered Palestinians with rhetoric, but never with resources?  Arab leaders perceive Palestinians as a source of treachery,stabbing Arab hosts in the back, triggering civil wars and causing the displacement of hundreds of thousands Palestinians in Jordan (1970), Lebanon (1970-1976, 1983, 2007), Kuwait (1991) and Iraq (2003). No Arab country came to the rescue of those Palestinians. More Palestinians were killed, arrested and expelled by Arabs than by Israel.
8. In the early 1950s, Mahmud Abbas and Arafat led the Palestinian cell of the Muslim Brotherhood terror organization in Egypt, fleeing Egypt following an attempt to murder President Nasser. Syria offered them asylum, but in 1966,they perpetrated terrorism in Syria and were forced to flee to Jordan, which provide them with a platform to terrorize Israel. However, in 1970, they attempted to topple the Hashemite regime, triggering a civil war, which transferred them to Lebanon. By 1975, they plundered South Lebanonaiming to topple the central regime in Beirut, igniting civil wars and the 1976 Syrian invasion of Lebanon. In 1990, the Palestinians stabbed the back of Kuwait, which absorbed 300,000 Palestinian allies of Mahmoud Abbas and Arafat, collaborating with Saddam Hussein’s invasion and destruction of Kuwait. Arab policy makers don’t forget and don’t forgive.    
9. The Arab World did not flexed its muscles during Israel’s battles against Palestinian terrorism in Gaza in 2009, 2012 and 2014, the 2000-2004 war on Mahmoud Abbas terrorism (2nd Intifada), the 1987-1991 Arafat-Abbas terrorism (1st Intifada) and the 1982-83 hot pursuit of Arafat-Abbas terrorists in Lebanon, which led to Arafat's and Abbas' expulsion from Beirut.
10. Arab League Foreign Ministers were invited to celebrate the November, 2012 UN vote for Palestinian non-member statehood. Only the Egyptian Foreign Minister and the Arab League Secretary General arrived.
11. The Red Carpet, which welcomes Palestinian leaders in the West, is transformed into a shabby rug upon landing in Arab capitals.  When will Western policy-makers comprehend Arab attitude towards the Palestinian issue?

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