A Palestinian State: what remains of the dream?
Abraham’s agreement sets out a suspension of annexations in the West Bank, not a final halt. Israel with its settlements in the West Bank placed on strategic axes cuts off Palestinian territorial continuities. In addition, there are today practically two Palestinian political entities that everything separates: on one side, the Islamist Gaza Strip, very hostile to Israel, and on the other, a West Bank that is opening up more and more to the outside world.
With the normalization agreements, Donald Trump assured that the Palestinians will want to join the peace dynamic because all their friends are there. However, on the contrary, they bitterly feel mostly abandoned by their Arab brothers, as Ahmed Majdalani, a member of the PLO executive committee, said.
The Palestinian Authority obviously called an emergency meeting of the Palestinian leadership, at the end of which it denounced the “betrayal of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa and the Palestinian cause” by the UAE and other Arab countries due to the resolute decoupling of the Israeli-Palestinian issue from the issue of Israeli-Arab relations. This “abandonment” of the Palestinian question could eventually precipitate its recovery by the two other non-Arab Muslim powers in the region, Iran and Turkey. Iran has thus described the Abraham Accords as “strategic stupidity” which “will strengthen the axis of resistance” in the region since the normalization of relations with the State of Israel cannot be “forgiven“.[i]
For Turkey, the UAE is “betraying the Palestinian cause for its own interests,” which is “unforgivable hypocrisy. “ [ii] The reactions of the two representative powers (Sunni and Shiite) of political Islam are thus very close since they now appear to be the last regional supporters of the Palestinian cause. The latter could therefore become a new fault line in the geopolitical struggle between the regional Muslim powers and favor a radicalization, or even an alignment of Palestinian resistance with the political positions long defended by the supporters of political Islam.
For the Palestinians, the conclusion is irrevocable: their fate is no longer central to the powers of the Arabian Peninsula that defend their own interests. Even the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed ben Salmane, is closer to the Emirati line than to the line embodied by his father. The new deal further undermines the credibility of the Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas. There is a potential risk of an exacerbated division between the Palestinian leaders who favor a return to the hard-line and the people who want relief from the multitude of social hardships they have to bear on end. Indeed, it should be noted that a growing part of Palestinian public opinion is weary, demoralized, and simply demands an improvement in the economic situation.
On the Palestinian plight, Ann M. Callahan argues in Global Affairs Strategic Studies:[iii]
“In addition, there has been a growing frustration and fatigue with the Palestinian Cause, one which could seem interminable. A certain amount of patience has been lost and Arab nations that had previously held to the Palestinian cause have begun to follow their own national interests. Looking back to late 2017, when the Trump administration officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, had it been a decade earlier there would have been widespread protests and the resulting backlash from the regional leaders in response, however, it was not the case. Indeed, there was minimal criticism. This may indicate that, at least for the regional leaders, adherence to the Palestinian cause is lessening in general. “
In any case, normalization is a failure – a new failure even – for the Palestinians. At the Arab League meeting in Cairo on September 9, 2020, they failed to get the Arab nations to condemn normalization with Israel.[iv] This is a strategic shift at the expense of the Palestinians. The Gulf monarchies share a common goal: the fear of American disengagement. They consider that the two non-Arab powers, Turkey and Iran, threaten their interests. How to counter them? In their view, this can only be done through a rapprochement with the Hebrew state, the other dominant military power in the Middle East.
Israel and The Gulf states
Concerning the Gulf States, the rapprochement with Israel began gradually in the years 1990-2000 (after the establishment of the Oslo process) in an informal way, Qatar established for example economic relations with Israel, and some visits of Israeli diplomats are made in the area, such as Yitzhak Rabin in Oman in 1994. Kuwait, on the other hand, has remained in the background because it maintains a close relationship with the Palestinians, particularly through the Palestine Liberation Organization -PLO-.
The Gulf States have always taken a more measured stance towards Israel than other Arab countries.[v] Geographically and historically, the Gulf is far from the Levant, so the Palestinian issue is not as sensitive, epidermal, and mobilizing as in countries like Lebanon or Syria. They have never been the spearheads of an anti-Israeli axis, unlike the Syrians, the Iraqis, or even the Algerians, who have constantly defended a firm position against Israel within the Arab League. Admittedly, the Palestinian cause has always been defended by the Gulf States, it remains a traditional leitmotif in public opinion, but the ruling families of these countries have not endorsed a virulent anti-Israeli stance. Moreover, the first outline of “regional peace”, commonly called the “Arab Peace Initiative“, was proposed by the Saudis in 2002.
In the mid-2000s, Israel and the United Arab Emirates initiated a rapprochement based on economic interests. The new generation of leaders and the business community saw an interest in exchanging with the Israeli “start-up nation”. The cooperation began to be established with Israeli companies, particularly in the security and high technology sectors, through their European or American branches. The Israelis managed to sell their technology through intermediaries since trade with the Jewish State was then officially prohibited with the Gulf countries.
On the rationale of these accords, Ann M. Callahan argues in Global Affairs Strategic Studies:[vi]
“The accords are seen as a product of a long-term trajectory and a regional reality where over the course of the last decade Arab states, particularly around the Gulf, have begun to shift their priorities. The UAE, Bahrain, and Israel had found themselves on the same side of more than one major fissure in the Middle East. These states have also sided with Israel regarding Iran. Saudi Arabia, too, sees Shiite Iran as a major threat, and while, as of now, it has not formalized relations with Israel, it does have ties with the Hebrew state. This opposition to Tehran is shifting alliances in the region and bringing about a strategic realignment of Middle Eastern powers.
Furthermore, opposition to the Sunni Islamic extremist groups presents a major threat to all parties involved. The newly aligned states all object to Turkey’s destabilizing support of the Muslim Brotherhood and its proxies in the regional conflicts in Gaza, Libya, and Syria. Indeed, the signatories’ combined fear of transnational jihadi movements, such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS derivatives, has aligned their interests closer to each other. “
This rapprochement is also based on strategic interests.[vii] From the mid-2000s, with the election of Ahmadinejad in Iran in 2005, the Iranian nuclear issue returned to the forefront. It is considered a threat both by the Israelis and by the Arab leaders of the Gulf. Contacts have been established between diplomats and Israeli and Gulf intelligence services. Concerning Bahrain, the rapprochement with Israel is more recent, it takes place from years 2010. When the Iranian nuclear issue became an international problem, a real convergence of views takes place between the Israelis and Bahrainis vis-à-vis Iran. At the same time, the Arab Spring breaks out in 2011, all the regimes in the region are struck by the protest, and the Israelis, as much as the Gulf states, are worried about the seizure of power by the Muslim Brotherhood in the region. The resumption of power by Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi after the presidency of Mohammed Morsi (from the Muslim Brotherhood) was experienced as a relief both in Israel and in the Gulf.
The United Arab Emirates wants to become a “Singapore of the Middle East“. Signing economic partnerships with Israel, which has the real technological know-how, could accelerate such ambitions. For the Israelis, it is more of an image issue since they have technology and capital. Now they can claim to the world that they are an economic partner like any other. The opening of the borders between the two countries will also allow the Hebrew State to take advantage of Dubai’s airport infrastructures, a real gateway to Asia and China.
The election of Donald Trump at the end of 2017 has reinforced this dynamic, it has cemented relations hitherto limited and very discreet. The fundamental part of the “Deal of the Century” proposed by the Americans is based on a rapprochement between the Israelis and the Gulf countries. Since the beginning of his mandate, Donald Trump, and especially his advisers, including Jared Kushner, have sought to sponsor the normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab countries’ “friends” of Washington.
On the progressive rapprochement between the Gulf States and Israel, Omar R. Rahman points out:[viii]
“For several years, backchannel ties between Israel and some Gulf Arab states have been developing in the shadows. While Israel is not shy about the relationship, the Gulf states have hoped to keep their rapprochement with Israel under wraps for obvious reasons pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet increasing diplomatic exposure has brought the relationship out into the open and signaled possible momentum toward the establishment of formal relations for the first time. “
The peace agreements with the Egyptians and Jordanians are very pragmatic. These neighboring countries have been at war with Israel. The peace treaties allow them to secure their borders and establish peaceful relations.
Because of this distance, Russia, Turkey[ix], and, more discreetly, the People’s Republic of China are advancing their pawns in the Middle East. Consequently, the United States intends to subcontract regional security to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. It is therefore not a geopolitical “gift” to Jerusalem. On the one hand, the Arab signatories of the Abraham Accords reiterate their positions in favor of a two-state solution. On the other hand, the Hebrew State is committed to the security of the Persian Gulf, thus entering into demanding diplomatic-military obligations. It will have to prepare for possible operations in the region, even though Israeli territory would be directly and immediately threatened.
It should also be noted that Saudi Arabia, despite the inclinations of the Crown Prince, Muhammed Ben Salman,[x] has not yet joined this initiative. As “Protector of the holy places of Islam“, King Salman is cautious. Perhaps he intends to keep this option to negotiate with the Biden Administration. In any case, the Israel-Saudi convergences are effective, with discreet cooperation in matters of intelligence and security. For several years now, a geostrategic axis between Israel and the Gulf States has been taking shape endlessly.[xi]
With the UAE on the other hand, there is not the same urgency to sign a peace agreement. I would even say that there is no need to normalize relations. Here we are witnessing a sort of “coming-out”, the formalization of relations that already existed and that needed to become official for very political and strategic reasons. In recent years, several trial balloons had been launched, notably through the participation of Israelis and Saudis in conferences organized by American think tanks, or the interview of Muhammed Ben Salman given to the newspaper The Atlantic in 2018.[xii] The Saudi Crown Prince was then publicly considering the possibility of a peace agreement with Israel:
“I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land. But we have to have a peace agreement to assure the stability for everyone and to have normal relations.”
And went on to say:
“There are a lot of interests we share with Israel and if there is peace, there would be a lot of interest between Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries”
To justify his recognition of Israel’s existence he points out:
“Our country doesn’t have a problem with Jews. Our Prophet Muhammad married a Jewish woman. Not just a friend—he married her. Our prophet, his neighbors were Jewish. You will find a lot of Jews in Saudi Arabia coming from America, coming from Europe. There are no problems between Christian and Muslims and Jews. We have problems like you would find anywhere in the world, among some people. But the normal sort of problems. “
However, he claimed that in return, progress on the Palestinian question was needed. Over the past two years, there has undeniably been an intensification and increased visibility of these relations.
Could Saudi Arabia take the plunge? Some signals seem to be going in that direction: much more tolerant preaching towards Israel in the country’s mosques, as well as, the acceptance by Riyadh that its airspace can be flown over by Israeli civilian aircraft. But the internal configuration remains complicated: the old King Salmane hesitates to undo what was done by his predecessor Abdullah in 2002, the famous “Arab Peace Initiative”, making recognition of Israel conditional on the creation of a Palestinian state. His young and bubbling son MBS would be, however, more inclined to cross the Rubicon in spite of internal resistance to the idea. Indeed, irritated by Iranian policies and actions in the Middle East MBS has openly declared on hearing the news that “Saudi intelligence agency reportedly brought weapons into Iran” [xiii]: “We will move the fight to Iran سننقل المعركة إلى الداخل الإيراني.” [xiv]
What happens with Biden?
Will the new American president try to systematically undo everything that was accomplished by his predecessor? With Joe Biden coming to power, here’s how the balance in the region could shift.
Economic opportunities and more: For the Emiratis, who make no secret of their ambitions, the Abraham Accords represent an economic windfall: 60,000 Israelis went on vacation to Dubai this winter – on a national scale, this is not insignificant – and high-tech exchanges are also planned. And that’s without counting the military and strategic aspects. The Emirates are in the process of obtaining powerful weapons from the United States, which until now have been denied to the Gulf States: F-35 stealth fighters, surveillance drones, EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft. Emiratis and Israelis also have a common enemy: Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. This is also the case in Bahrain. Until the end of the 1960s, the Persian state still considered this small Gulf kingdom as the 14th province of Iran. Netanyahu, for his part, believes that Iran is Israel’s number one adversary; the time-old adage that says: “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is once again proving true in the Middle East.
Israel is no more an isolated “Zionist entity”: The normalization of relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco represents a real achievement for the Israelis. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has clung to the strategy of the “iron wall“, according to which the power of the Hebrew state will eventually persuade its neighbors that they have no choice but to recognize its existence.
Donald Trump, after all, is a peacemaker: When the American president was still on the campaign trail, he prided himself on being the best dealmaker in the world. With the Abraham Accords, Donald Trump saw his popularity rise among evangelical Christians, an important part of his electoral base. On the other hand, his so-called “Deal of the Century”, proclaimed in January 2020, to make peace between Israelis and Palestinians, proved to be a failure. The U.S. Embassy, which moved to Jerusalem at his instigation, upsetting the line observed for decades by his predecessors, should remain there for the time being. Nor will the United States reverse its controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, said Anthony Blinken, President Biden’s State Department secretary, during his Senate hearing.
Palestinians feel it is a sellout: It is interesting to note that the Palestinian cause no longer constitutes an impediment to the rapprochement between Israel and the Arab world, to the great displeasure of these people. The Palestinian Authority has condemned the Abraham Accords, evoking a betrayal qualified as “despicable“.
The priority of the new president will probably not be to propose a new peace agreement, just to renew the dialogue with Ramallah. Joe Biden believes, however, that the only viable outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “the two-state solution,” a statement made recently by his State Department Secretary Antony Blinken, during his hearing in the Senate. Indeed, Biden would continue the normalization initiatives of Arab countries with Israel but he would also work to ensure that these new relations become a source of momentum and progress towards the two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.
The Palestinians, from the Islamists of Hamas, in power in the Gaza Strip, to the secular Fatah of President Mahmoud Abbas, which sits in the occupied West Bank, never cease to denounce these agreements, believing that normalization between Israel and the Arab world should be considered only after, and not before, a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In Gaza, Hamas called on Joe Biden to “stop attempts to liquidate the Palestinian question,” starting with the status of Jerusalem, said its spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum.
Is Iran, the big winner?
In the end, these normalizations could have the opposite effect to that expected and thus benefit Iranian soft power in the Middle East. The Islamic Republic could indeed appear as the last active support to the Palestinians, in an environment marked by the successive abandonments of the Palestinians by Arab leaders in the Gulf and the Maghreb.[xv] Let us recall that in 2006 the Lebanese Hezbollah had already restored “pride” to the “Arab street” by putting up fierce resistance to the Hebrew State, which had to withdraw from Lebanon without having achieved its objectives. Thus, Iran could now position itself as a pillar of resistance and support for the Palestinians in a context of widespread “betrayal,” even more so if Saudi Arabia followed in the footsteps of its neighbors.[xvi]
But whatever the position of other Arab states thereafter, it is already certain that the Palestinian cause can no longer count on the support of Arab allies. The Arab League, already inoperative on the question of Palestine, appears divided on the issue, with a petition circulating even to transform its headquarters into a wedding hall. While the Trump Plan provides for the creation of a Palestinian state under permanent Israeli tutelage, the fate of the Palestinians seems more than ever dependent on potential political alternatives within the state of Israel, with Arab leaders limiting themselves to the role of passive observers.[xvii]
Conclusion: What next?
Led by Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the campaign to normalize relations with Israel is expected to continue under Biden with Oman, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia. Riyadh is a choice piece for the United States that the Democrats could take home as a new trophy if they choose to continue with the initiative, already a country from outside the region i.e. Kosovo is duly joining the accord.[xviii]
So what are the geopolitical consequences of these agreements? Is this really a new regional “alignment” to contain Iran or does it mean a simple return to realpolitik? What are the possible “hidden” sides of this normalization and what could be the future of the Palestinian question?
In short, the Abraham Accords and their extensions constitute an unexpected diplomatic success in view of the uncertain, even erratic nature of the efforts made by Donald Trump in other fields. In this regard, it must be admitted that the “maximum pressure” exerted on Iran was not totally convincing, as the American President gave up acting at the right time. Will Joe Biden and his European allies, complacent towards Tehran, be able to postpone the showdown? The very recent execution of an Iranian dissident, a refugee in France then kidnapped in Iraq, is a reminder of the political reality of the regime in place.
Finally, it is true that the Abraham Accords do not guarantee a definitive US outcome in the Middle East; but still they prepare the ground for a broader geopolitical reconfiguration. It is therefore to be hoped that the Biden Administration will build on this foundation to conduct a major Middle East strategy that will combine the consolidation of acquired positions and “burden-sharing”, with a view to clear and circumscribe political objectives, defined and shared with the allies of the United States. There can be no question of writing off this highly strategic region.
The motif of Abraham’s sacrifice is one of the points of convergence of the three great monotheistic Middle Eastern religions, but it also presents significant variations in these religions with respect to the canonical text of Genesis.[xix] Isaac is the son destined for sacrifice among the Jews, Ismâ’il among the Muslims. Isaac prefigures Jesus in Christianity, but he is also a son of the Divinity destined for a redemptive sacrifice that he claims. The actors of the stories, always the same, combine male and female figures, relations of filiation and alliance, but they are inscribed in different spatial and temporal sequences.
American policy, in its major international and strategic options, is being outlined from the depths of the State, Pentagon, and State Department. Therefore, no significant change is to be expected. The discourse will be different with Joe Biden at the helm. At this point, one realizes that Donald Trump’s speeches did not really represent America’s long-term politics, but choices designed to satisfy his electoral base, and the ideological options that go with it.
In the Middle East, America’s broad options will continue, from proximity to Israel to the Saudi partnership to a broader relationship with the United Arab Emirates. Thus, the objectives of the last 20 years are expected to continue. These are as follows:
- A non-nuclear Iran;
- New stability in the Middle East (reduction of Iranian regional influence);
- A privileged alliance with Israel;
- Maintaining the partnership with Saudi Arabia, accompanying sales of military equipment;
- A strategic relationship with the United Arab Emirates and Morocco; and
- Crafting the new Middle East by encouraging more normalization with Israel to create a solid front to counter both Iranian and Turkish hegemonic designs in the region.
You can follow Professor Mohamed Chtatou on Twitter: @Ayurinu
[i] Israa Khater. “Are we Palestinians waiting for Godot? “Open Democracy dated August 19, 2020. https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/north-africa-west-asia/are-we-palestinians-waiting-godot/
“In the famous play by Samuel Beckett, Vladimir and Estragon, the two main characters sit in a field waiting for Godot to show up. They keep each other’s company as they spend days on end waiting for the arrival of this mysterious character to resolve their problems. They converse, not to find solutions to their problems, but to mute the agony inhabiting the silence that would otherwise befall them. The play comes to an end with Vladimir and Estragon waiting for Godot, not moving, not giving up, and not one step closer to finding a solution to their problems. By waiting for him, they succeed only in wasting precious time that could have been better utilized for finding a solution to their problems. He never shows up. They essentially waited for hope, and hope never came. For as long as I can remember, I have turned on my TV to death accompanied by pleas of the Palestinians asking, “where are the Arabs?” An appeal that has been far too common for the last 70 years. So, where are the Arabs? “
[ii] Merve Aydoğan. “Turkey slams UAE over recent deal with Israel. “AA dated August 14, 2020. https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/turkey-slams-uae-over-recent-deal-with-israel/1941509
“The UAE, which is pursuing secret ambitions over a US plan that is stillborn and null and void, ignores the willpower of Palestine,” read a statement by the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
[iii] Ann M. Callahan. “The Abraham Accords and future prospects. “Global Affairs Strategic Studies dated December 22, 2020. https://www.unav.edu/web/global-affairs/detalle/-/blogs/the-abraham-accords-and-future-prospects
[iv] Amira Hass. “Analysis: Israel-UAE Normalization Deal Reveals Failure of Palestinian Diplomacy. “Haaretz dated August 14, 2020. https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/.premium-israel-uae-normalization-deal-reveals-failure-of-palestinian-diplomacy-1.9076411
[v] Ray Takeyh. “Are Gulf Arab States Aligning Toward Israel? “CFR dated August 17, 2020. https://www.cfr.org/in-brief/are-gulf-arab-states-aligning-toward-israel
“Israel has had a long-standing, although quiet, relationship with the smaller Gulf states such as Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. These ties have mainly involved security cooperation in terms of intelligence sharing. For many years, the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process has impeded formal diplomatic ties. That wall was breached by this accord. The security cooperation might not change, but this agreement is still an important and momentous achievement. And it might yet presage other Gulf countries formalizing their own ties with Israel. “
[vii] Omar R. Rahman. “Order from Chaos: What’s behind the relationship between Israel and Arab Gulf states? “Brookings dated January 28, 2019. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2019/01/28/whats-behind-the-relationship-between-israel-and-arab-gulf-states/
[ix] Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Salman’s reported comments reflect Saudi Arabia’s deep suspicion of President Tayyip Erdogan. “Saudi Prince Says Turkey Part of ‘Triangle of Evil,’ Egyptian Media Reports. “Reuters dated March 7, 2018. https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-saudi-turkey-idUKKCN1GJ1WG
Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Salman has described Turkey as part of a “triangle of evil” along with Iran and hardline Islamist groups, Egypt’s Al-Shorouk newspaper reported on Wednesday.
The Saudi prince also accused Turkey of trying to reinstate the Islamic Caliphate, abolished nearly a century ago when the Ottoman Empire collapsed. His reported comments reflect Saudi Arabia’s deep suspicion of President Tayyip Erdogan, whose ruling AK Party has its roots in Islamist politics and who has allied his country with Qatar in its dispute with Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf states.
[x] A secret meeting between Prince Mohammed Ben Salmane (MBS) and Benjamin Netanyahu was revealed by the press on November 24, 2020, reviving rumors of a possible normalization between the two countries. The latter is however hampered by the opposition of the Saudi king and by a public opinion very hostile to any recognition of Israel. (Noa Landau & Jack Khoury. “After Saudi Adviser Confirms MBS-Netanyahu Met, Saudi Foreign Minister Denies. “Haaretz dated November 23, 2020. https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-saudis-confirm-mbs-netanyahu-meeting-discussed-iran-and-normalization-1.9324260).
“Gaza-based Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which have a close relationship with Saudi regional rival Iran, both blasted the Saudi government in separate statements following the report, asking for clarifications from Riyadh. Hamas called the visit a “humiliation and a violation of Palestinian rights,” while Islamic Jihad said it was a “betrayal of Al Aqsa and Mecca.” The Palestinian Authority had yet to issue a response. “
[xi] Yasser Okbi & Maariv HaShavua. “Did the Saudi Crown Prince make a covert visit to Israel?” Jerusalem Post dated September 11, 2017. http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Did-the-Saudi-Crown-Prince-make-a-covert-visit-to-Israel-504777
Jeffrey Heller and Stephen Kalin. “Israel has held secret talks with Saudi Arabia over Iran threat, says minister. ” Independent dated November 20, 2017. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israel-saudi-arabia-secret-talks-iran-threat-middle-east-yuval-steinitz-benjamin-netanyahu-crown-a8064566.html.
[xii] Jeffrey Goldberg. “Saudi Crown Prince: Iran’s Supreme Leader ‘Makes Hitler Look Good’. “The Atlantic dated April 2, 2018. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/04/mohammed-bin-salman-iran-israel/557036/
[xiii] Times of Israel dated January 25, 2018. https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/saudi-intelligence-agency-reportedly-brought-weapons-into-iran/
“An official news agency reports that Iran’s intelligence agency has confiscated large amounts of weapons and ammunition including bombs and grenades and officials are blaming Saudi Arabia for bringing them into the country.
Yesterday’s report by the official IRNA news agency says the bombs were seized in the eastern part of the country and accused the Saudi intelligence service of bringing them into the country.
A second operation took place against a “separatist group” in the Kurdish town of Marivan near the Iraqi border, where authorities seized grenades and rockets.
In both areas occasional clashes take place between Iranian forces and IS-linked fighters and militant Kurdish separatists.
Saudi Arabia has repeatedly accused rival Iran of sending weapons to Yemen’s Shiite Houthis rebels to fight the Saudi-backed coalition there. AP “
[xv]CFR. “A Conversation with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran. “CFR dated September 21, 2020. https://www.cfr.org/event/conversation-foreign-minister-mohammad-javad-zarif-iran
[xvi] The Atlantic . “Iranian Foreign Minister: ‘Arab Affairs Are Iran’s Business’.” The Atlantic dated 9 October 2017. www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/10/iran-persian-gulf-jcpoa/542421.
[xviii] Middle East Eye. “Kosovo to establish diplomatic relations with Israel on 1 February. “Middle East Eye dated January 30, 2021. https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/kosovo-set-establish-diplomatic-relations-israel
[xix] Jay, Nancy. Throughout Your Generations Forever. Sacrifice, Religion and Paternity. Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press, 1992.
Bibliography (adapted from Oxford Bibliographies):
- Barari, Hassan A. Israelism: Arab Scholarship on Israel, a Critical Assessment. Reading, UK: Ithaca, 2009.
An Arab scholar’s critique of academic research on Israel in the Arab world, which he describes as “Israelism”—a label suggested by Edward Said’s description of Western scholarship on the Middle East as “orientalism.”
- Boyle, Francis Anthony. Palestine, Palestinians, and International Law. Atlanta: Clarity, 2003.
Assessment of the legal dimensions of the conflict, highly sympathetic to Palestinian arguments.
- Khouri, Fred J. The Arab-Israel Dilemma. 3rd ed. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1985.
Though somewhat out of date, Khouri’s work still stands out as a serious academic study of the conflict from an Arab perspective. Unflattering portrayals of both sides, though harsher on Israel’s leaders.
- Morris, Benny. Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881–2001. New York: Vintage, 2001.
This extensive account adheres closely to primary and secondary sources in an inductive approach to accuracy and objectivity. Also useful as a basic reference.
- O’Brien, William V. Law and Morality in Israel’s War with the PLO. New York: Routledge, 1991.
Though written a decade earlier, this work deals with many of the same questions as Boyle 2003 but reaches conclusions much more favorable to Israel.
- Roy, Sara. “Reconceptualizing the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Key Paradigm Shifts.” Journal of Palestine Studies 41.3 (Spring 2012): 71–91.
A scholar of Palestinian affairs presents the case that the Oslo peace process has worked to the disadvantage of Palestinians by accepting territorial fragmentation, focusing on issues of occupation, and transforming the conflict into a humanitarian issue.
- Scham, Paul, Benjamin Pogrund, and As’ad Ghanem, eds. Special Issue: Shared Narratives—A Palestinian-Israeli Dialogue. Israel Studies 18.2 (Summer 2013).
This is a special issue of an Israeli academic journal, with four of the ten substantive articles contributed by Palestinian scholars. Provides an illuminating overview of the basic issues of the conflict.
- Shlaim, Avi. The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. London: Penguin, 2000.
Shlaim’s Israeli origins lead this to be classified as “post-Zionist” history; in any event, it is a carefully researched critique of Israel’s approach over the entire course of the conflict.
- Tessler, Mark. A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. 2d ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009.
Comprehensive and detailed, this history gives a sympathetic hearing to the claims and counterclaims of both sides. Its voluminous and thorough coverage makes it useful as a basic reference on all stages of the conflict.