Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Israel and the new Arab reality | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The US President Barack Obama’s attempt to revive the peace negotiations was soon aborted by an explicit and quick rejection from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This time he was unequivocal, sparing us all the trouble of watching a wearisome soap opera.

Without any doubt, the Palestinian cause will not die or fall into oblivion just because Netanyahu said no, or because Obama is preoccupied with mobilizing voter support for his presidential election. The cause will return strongly to the forefront, and the Palestinian people’s demands for liberating their soil and establishing their country will by no means be ignored. The status quo under which Israel said no has now changed. Israel is now facing a new fait accompli – albeit still a work in progress – following the eruption of revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Libya and Yemen. It will no longer be acceptable for Israel to justify its occupation of foreign soil in the name of democracy, just as it is no longer possible for Arab governments to exploit the Palestinian cause regionally. Everyone in the region must now face the new reality, triggered by an unemployed Tunisian youth who set himself on fire. Who expected the Egyptian people to die in order to change their regime? Who could ever have imagined that the Syrian people would dare stage a revolt, resulting in hundreds of deaths, and nevertheless return to the streets once more in protest? There is now a tremendous spirit prevailing which cannot be broken.

All the popular uprisings that have taken place, and continue to be staged today, have been confined to internal affairs. No single American or Israeli flag has been burned, because such demonstrations were not organized by governments aiming to divert attention towards the outside world, away from domestic concerns. Perhaps, in a year or two from now, the majority of these countries will settle down, and Palestinian demands will once again emerge. Then it would not be easy for the world to remain a mere bystander, simply watching Israel continue with its occupation and oppression of the Palestinians, whether under Talmudic pretexts, or in the name of military superiority, or as the only democracy in the region. For the Arabs who have obtained their democracy, or for the rest of the world, it will not be easy to simply watch what is going on. Similarly, it will not be easy for the US President, who says he advocates the Arab peoples’ right to self-determination, to also sit in the audience and simply watch what is happening in the West Bank and Gaza.

The US election calculations have put Obama in an awkward position today, particularly as he wasted two years in negotiation attempts without a clear roadmap. Less than four months remain for the current Democrats’ Caucus, and then the election campaign will be launched officially before it is settled by late November 2012. Potential happenings in the Middle East over the next 18 months will be decisive, not only for the US with regards to its election, but rather for the entire region, where the map may change dramatically.