The Palestinians, badly treated by the Arab world, must turn to Israel to build a lasting future. As a people, they simple have no friends in the Arab world. They are to some states pawns, to others parasites, and even the “untouchables” of the Arab world in some quarters.
Across the Middle East the so called ‘refugees’ are denied passports and citizenship by the countries they, their fathers, and their grandfathers were born in. The aim, aside from clear racism and lack of basic humanity, has remained the same since 1948 – the politicization of the Palestinians:
“The Arab states do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it an open sore, as an affront to the UN and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don’t give a damn whether the refugees live or die” – so said Ralph Galloway, former Director of UNRWA, in August 1958.
Arafat himself said “We refuse to talk about the resettlement of refugees [where they are currently living] because this is a crime….It is the Palestinians’ right to return to their homeland.”
Arab states’ treatment of the Palestinians born in these countries – their countries – is beyond awful. It is deeply racist. In Lebanon, Palestinians cannot own property or study any course of higher education or professional qualification; Saudi Arabia, during its labour shortage of the 1970s and 80s, chose to employ foreign workers rather than resident unemployed Palestinians.
It often seems that the only time Arab states even pay lip service to Palestinian concerns is when they are connected to Israel.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians themselves, kept poverty-bound and stateless in their ‘refugee camps’ (essentially a policy of Nazi era-style ghettoisation) are taught that all their woes are because of “Zionists” who caused this Nakba (calamity). They are taught to hate from kindergarten. “Zionism caused your problems, Zionism is evil, one day the Zionist state will fall, say their Arab ‘brothers’, and the Palestinians know no different.
Many fall into the trap of hating the Zionists, believing with great faith the Pallywood lies of apartheid, genocide and child murder. They see Israel as the perpetrator of the horrors that, in truth, are actually occurring daily in virtually every other state in the Middle East apart from Israel. They see no irony in Israel being the only country in the Middle East where all its citizens, including Arabs, have the rights 330,000,000 other Arabs can only dream of; they probably never hear that Israel is the safe haven for minorities persecuted in Palestinian society (gays, Druze, Bahai, Christians etc.)
The truth, however, is that for them to have any future, it can only be with Israel. The Arab states hold no solutions for the people against whom they have perpetrated a racist crime for 65 years, and if and when a Palestinian state is born, they’ll offer little more than lip service. More than likely they will expel their Palestinian ‘refugees’, forcing millions of people to emigrate to the tiny Palestinian state which will be unable to receive them.
A future Palestinian state will need port access; it will need water, gas and oil; food even. That isn’t going to come from Lebanon or Syria, and probably not too much from Jordan. Only Israel can provide the trade agreements that Palestine will need. Without Israel they will be doomed; indeed as I have already said, if the Arab states unload their refugees on this state, it will be doomed anyway and Israel will find itself with a worse situation on its hands than that which it currently faces.
The reality is, the Palestinian position in the Arab world has become weaker since Israel recently became a gas producer. Shortly Israel will be the third largest gas and oil exporter in the Middle East. The oil-producing Arab states are aware of this and are already signalling a shift in their entrenched positions towards Israel, with some of their smaller allies and proxies trading openly with the Zionist entity.
Iran (not an Arab country) is making a power-play for political control and influence within the Arab world, and has chosen Israel as the method of gaining that power. This too makes it worthwhile for those Arab states ranged against Iran, to change their position on Israel.
All of this does not bode well for the Palestinians, whose policy – sometimes stated, sometimes not – has always been “all or nothing”. The Palestinians have avoided negotiations on final settlement agreements even when they have had this in their hands, because they have sold their people the lie that there really is only a one state solution: Palestine. So Arafat started an intifada rather than sign an agreement, and Abbas twists and turns, offering any reason and objection he can find why he can’t negotiate.
There is a glimmer of hope in all this for both Israel and the Palestinians: the possibility, rarely mentioned, of a regional agreement. As Arab states start to need Israel more than they need it gone, they may become more able to pressure the Palestinians to the table, more willing to offer citizenship to second and third generation ‘refugees’ born in their countries. This offers Israel the security guarantees that it seeks, and opens an opportunity for trade and goods to travel through to any Palestinian state.
It’s a small window of hope, and if this doesn’t come to be, I see no future for the Palestinian people, who, in the words of Israeli elder statesman, the late Abba Eban, “never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.