PLO's Erekat: The UAE-Israel deal has created Arab Zionists

Erekat urged Arab leaders not to abandon the Palestinian cause.

Palestinians protest against the deal between Israel and the UAE in the West Bank city of Hebron, August 16, 2020 (photo credit: WISAM HASHLAMOUN/FLASH90)
Palestinians protest against the deal between Israel and the UAE in the West Bank city of Hebron, August 16, 2020
(photo credit: WISAM HASHLAMOUN/FLASH90)
The normalization agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel marks the inception of Arab Zionists, PLO Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat has told Palestinian media. "Zionist thinking" - that is, viewing Israel as a friend - is "forbidden," Erekat added.
The "Abraham Accord" agreement between the UAE and Israel has been hailed as an historic step towards "warm" peace between the Jewish state and the Arab world, characterized not by uneasy ceasefire but by friendly relations between the nations. However, it has caused division within the Arab world over the question of solidarity with Palestine. Palestinian leaders, meanwhile, have made it clear that they view the agreement as a catastrophe.
“The attack against us is being carried out in a number of forms, and this is something that should concern us and the coming generations, because there are groups [among the Arab states] that say: ‘Palestine is not my cause.’ Groups say that ‘the Palestinians are ungrateful and deny this and that, and we are employing them [the Palestinian refugees]. We have helped them, but Israel is a beautiful state, a successful state'," Erekat told the host of Topic of the Day, broadcast on official PA TV on August 22, according to a translation by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).
Erekat continued: "And there are those who speak in Hebrew at universities to speak with Israel, which concerns me, as it is a public birth for the Arab Zionists.”
Asked to clarify whether he was suggesting the normalization agreement is "the beginning of establishing an Arab Zionist movement,” Erekat replied: “Not an Arab Zionist movement, a declaration - I said that this is a public birth for the Arab Zionists. There is no Arab Zionism, there are Arab Zionists."
A cartoon posted to the official Fatah Facebook page, Aug. 16, 2020 (Courtesy Palestinian Media Watch)A cartoon posted to the official Fatah Facebook page, Aug. 16, 2020 (Courtesy Palestinian Media Watch)
Erekat made it clear that he laid the blame for the nascent Arab Zionists at the feet of Jared Kushner, senior advisor to his father-in-law, US President Donald Trump. Kushner also happens to be Jewish.
"Kushner is a trickster," Erekat said. "Kushner is like a person who was born in order to establish the Zionist narrative and erase and eliminate the Palestinian cause in all its aspects."
Erekat has written to officials throughout the Arab states, he said, to urge them not to follow in the footsteps of the UAE in brokering a normalization agreement with Israel, and furthermore to persuade the UAE to recant on its deal.
"In my eyes it is not insignificant when an Arab photographs his son who puts the Israeli flag on his chest," he said. "In other words, for whose benefit? For whose benefit are you doing this to your son or daughter? Because you hate the Palestinians as you say? Because the Palestinians do not agree? This is Zionist thinking. Forbidden. This is forbidden. Of course, this is a small minority, because I’m certain that most of the Arab peoples, 99% of them, [consider] Palestine their cause.”
Erekat's words can be seen as an integral part of the wider Palestinian narrative on the Abraham Accords, PMW has suggested. They cite a statement published to the website of the State of Palestine, PLO, Negotiations Affairs Department on August 16, which argued that the agreement weakens Palestinian efforts to achieve an independent state by rewarding Israel before the question of Palestinian statehood is settled.
Itamar Marcus, founder and director of PMW told The Jerusalem Post: "The PA, as expected, has always placed their narrow political interests above the interests of all other countries. However, they also demand and expect that Arab countries place Palestinian interests ahead of their own people’s interests, which is irrational. Surprisingly, most of the Arab states have agreed to the PA dictates until now, and have not normalized relations with Israel, despite the many potential benefits. Now that the UAE has decided to place its own interests and its people’s interests first, the PA has responded like a spoiled child who did not get his way.
"Since it is beneficial for all the Gulf states to have strong economic, technological and military relations with Israel, the PA is justifiably fearful that this could be a watershed moment in which everyone else moves ahead towards peace, and they are left behind screaming and ranting, and no one is there to listen."
Yesterday Jared Kushner flew from Tel Aviv in Israel to Abu Dhabi in the UAE on the first commercial flight between the two nations. Asked by UAE state news agency WAM when the next Arab state could normalize ties, Kushner was quoted as saying: "Let's hope it's months."