A PALESTINIAN woman takes cover during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence on Friday.
(photo credit: REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)
Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abu al-Gheith caused a stir when he stated during a recent television interview that the priority of the Palestinian cause – resisting Israel and pushing for a Palestinian state – has been somewhat “reduced,” before clarifying that “it is still a pressing circumstance that we [Arab states] must strive to resist.”
Al-Gheith explained to a local Egyptian channel that times have changed and the Arab world has been dramatically transformed as well. Before 2010 there was not an Arab state that failed but “recent years have been the hardest on the region,” citing the collapse of countries like Yemen, Libya and Syria.
Moreover, al-Gheith cautioned, no one should forget “the mistakes of Arab rulers and their governing regimes which have caused tragedies in the region.”
Mahmoud, an Egyptian political analyst who requested that his last name be withheld due to the sensitivity of the matter told The Media Line that the secretary-general’s “statements are a clear attempt to prepare the way for the normalization of ties with the Zionist entity.
“He [al-Gheith] is not very smart because the Arab street would never accept this entity in any way,” he elaborated, stressing that citizens have turned away from their governments on this issue and remain committed to Arab concerns as a broader nation.
“The majority of Arabs see Israel as a foreign body, and feel threatened by it. While politicians have their own agendas and interests with the Zionist entity, the wider Arab nation does not and rejects it.”
Nabeel Shaath, a high-ranking Palestinian Authority official, disagreed with Mamoud's assessment, explaining that al-Gheith meant the Arab region is going through a very tough phase, one filled with political uncertainty and conflicts.
“Given the damage the United States has caused in Iraq, Syria and Libya, there are big and important concerns, as pressing as the Palestinian one,” Shaath said.
Nevertheless, he added, this does not mean the Arab world has forgotten the plight of Palestinians or the risks involved with normalizing relations with Israel.
However, Moeen al-Taher, a Jordanian political analyst, disagreed. Al-Ghieth’s words gestured towards establishing formal relations with Israel and attempted to justify such a stance with the Arab street, he explained to The Media Line.
Qasem Qaseer, a Lebanese political analyst, told The Media Line that “the secretary-general represents the official position of the Arab League, which is trying to de-prioritize the conflict with the Zionist entity.
“He said he is not trying to prioritize other issues. Nevertheless, the ‘Zionist entity’ is the main issue and cause for all other problems in the region. The events on the ground prove that no matter how complicated internal issues become in Arab nations, they can be solved. This is not the case with the Zionist enemy, the region’s the core problem.”
Arabs tend to react to anything that happens in Palestine as a result of the conflict, he explained. When the U.S. declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, citizens throughout the Arab world stormed the streets and loudly protested the decision. “This confirms that the conflict with the Zionist entity is the main one,” he concluded.
“Look at the countries that signed peace agreements with the enemy including Palestine. This did not end their problems; rather it increased them.”