The latter half of 2020 has seen four Arab states agreeing to normalize ties with Israel, some analysts say the normalization deals reflect shifting regional priorities and shared concerns of some countries in the Middle East.
Jihad Odeh, professor of political science at Helwan University in Cairo, told Xinhua that the normalization “leads to a significant change in the political orientations of Arab countries.”
He said the influence of the agreements on the people of Arab countries “is not yet clear in light of the popular rejection.”
Saad Rashid, a political analyst for Bahrain’s Al-Watan daily, said the normalization of relations between Israel and four Arab countries is a “turning point” in the region’s strategic alignment.
“The Middle East region has been beset by a series of challenges, especially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But some countries exploited the conflict to undermine the stability of the region,” Rashid said.
He believes that the purpose of the Arab normalization with Israel was to “ensure stability.” “It is vital to have such a relationship because Israel is an advanced scientific force and it is in the interest of all countries to maintain a stability in the region,” Rashid continued.
“The Arab states have more than once demonstrated their support for the Palestinian cause and the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calling for establishing a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. This is a key element of the normalization agreements,” he said.
“The reasons behind the Arab-Israeli normalization vary, but the common denominator is to find the shared interests for those countries, in light of the unstable conditions in the Arab region,” said Salah Al-Doma, director of Strategic Studies and International Relations Institute in Khartoum.
He said that normalization constitutes a real launch of the efforts to form a regional axis to confront the growing regional influence of countries such as Iran.
“It is clear that other Arab countries are watching with interest the results of the normalization agreements, waiting to join the train of normalization if they are convinced of the benefits.”
Nabil Amro, former Palestinian representative to the Arab League, told Xinhua that the year has seen “a major shift” in the official Arab position towards the Palestinian cause. “The normalization of relations with Israel represented a shift in the official Arab position that was deeply rooted in the Palestinian-Arab relations,” Amro said.
He explained that the current Arab position is duality: on the one hand, Arab states support the Palestinians’ rights and the two-state solution, but on the other, they seek to normalize ties with Israel.
WEAKENING OF PALESTINIAN CAUSE
The leaders of the four Arab countries, which signed the normalization agreements with Israel, has repeatedly reaffirmed that the agreements would not be at the expense of the Palestinian cause, but the Palestinians believe the Arab rapprochement with Israel has weakened a long-standing pan-Arab position toward the cause.
Hani Al-Masry, director of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy Research and Strategic Studies, said the Arab normalization with Israel undermine the efforts for Palestinian statehood, bypassing the Arab Peace Initiative.
The Saudi Arabia-proposed Arab Peace Initiative stipulates that any official recognition of Israel is conditional on the end of the occupation of Palestinian territories and establishment of the two-state solution on the 1967 borders.
“The most dangerous thing in the Arab normalization agreements is that it inaugurates the first major public practical step to establishing an alliance between several Arab countries, the United States and Israel,” he said.
Al-Masry said the normalization agreements “have no practical connection to supporting the Palestinian cause,” adding that the agreements have not stopped Israel from doing more annexation of lands and construction of settlements in the West Bank.
“It is an illusion to believe that the Arab normalization with Israel will force the Palestinians to accept the Israeli proposal based on liquidating their cause and legitimate rights. It won’t achieve a just and comprehensive peace,” he added.