The Abraham Accords represents the latest in a series of significant peace initiatives aiming to resolve the long-standing Arab/Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Although the issue with Palestine was not directly addressed, these naturalization agreements with Israel were presented as a means to achieve peace in the entire region. This is not a precedent. All peace processes with Israel have been built on the promise of peace, but, for some reason, peace is still far-fetched. Most of the time it is Israel that breaches these agreements. Thus, if not peace that Israel wants, then what is it?
In an article titled “the Myth of Peace in the Middle East” published in the Palestine Chronicle, I have contended that the promise of peace within the Abraham Accords is unsubstantiated, particularly for the Palestinians. This is because the issues of the occupation of Palestinian territories, the right of refugees’ return, and Palestinian self-determination have not been effectively addressed, rendering the notion of peace within the accords as nothing more than a myth.
Indeed, ever since the signing of these agreements, Israel has carried tens of attacks on the Palestinian territories. The most horrific one is the attack on the besieged Gaza strip on August 5, 2022, as Israel carried out air attacks which according to the Palestinian Health Ministry statement on August 7 left 44 dead, including a commander of the Islamic Jihad group and a young girl. Al Jazeera reported that one-third of the Palestinians killed in this raid are children.
Furthermore, the latest two-day Israeli military operation on Jenin refugee camp is considered the biggest incursion on the West Bank since the Second Intifada 20 years ago. It resulted in the killing of at least 12 Palestinians, and approximately injuring 100 not to mention the utter and devastating destruction of the Jenin’s refugee camp, including its most civil buildings.
The apartheid regime is also notorious for shooting Journalists who try to cover such crimes from up-close. The most known case is Al Jazeera’s Journalist Shiren Abu Akleh who is an American-Palestinian news correspondent known for her coverage of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. She was shot while covering an Israeli military raid on Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank on May 11, 2022.
Abu Akleh was shot in the head despite the fact she was wearing a helmet and vest marking her as press. This is clearly indicative of a crime being committed. Yet, even sadder, all the Arab countries involved in these peace agreements with Israel remained silent on condemning, or even holding Israel accountable of the civilian Palestinians’ killings, and of Abu Akleh’s assassination. This highlights Israel’s apparent disregard for international law and human rights norms, as it seems to act with total impunity and faces no consequences for its actions.
Given all these circumstances, Israeli officials keep boasting in their media appearances about the uniqueness of the “only democracy in the Middle East.” Lately, they kept on denouncing the armed resistance in Jenin claiming that their entire incursion was to fight Palestinian terrorists who represent a threat to this democracy. As customary, their pretext is Israel’s right to defend its national security and the safety of its citizens. Nonetheless, they conveniently disregard the fact that the growing armed resistance in Jenin is the byproduct of Israel’s ongoing illegal occupation of the West Bank.
However, the portrayal of Palestinians continues to be heavily influenced by Israel’s control over the narratives concerning Palestine, shaping how they are perceived globally. The world often fails to grasp that Palestinians have firsthand experience of the frailties and shortcomings of the peace process. As a result, their perspective has shifted, and their focus is no longer on achieving only victory, but rather on persisting in their resistance until the very end. Despite how desperate this situation may seem, these are the foundations and rationale behind Palestinian resistance today.
After witnessing the failure of all treaties and agreements, Palestinians now are left with no other alternative to negate their way around occupation except for fighting back. This is what many Westerners seem to not understand about them. For the casual Palestinian, it is either to resist getting killed, or getting killed. It is that simple. It is high time for Westerners to tolerate this resistance and recognize it as an act of self-defense the exact way they tolerate Israeli atrocious attacks on Gaza and the Occupied Territories that go under the pretext of securing Israel’s national security.
By examining the aftermath of the Abraham Accords, one can reasonably deduce that Israel’s true intention was never to pursue peace. In reality, peace has never been their priority; rather, their primary focus has always been on acquiring and controlling more land. Throughout numerous instances, Palestinians and neighboring Arab countries have made significant concessions, offering large portions of land in exchange for halting Israel’s military escalations. Consequently, since the Camp David Accords, all peace processes have primarily served Israel’s interests first. And for Israeli officials, the only instance when they could agree to peace is when it is for land; and a holder of such an opportunistic belief cannot be negotiated with.
Granted, one of the shortcomings of the peace process is that it turned the Occupied Palestinian Territories from occupied to a land under “conflict.” Interestingly, the word conflict indicates that it is happening between two, or more equal groups in terms of power and might. Hence, when Palestinians try to resist occupation, they are not framed as people who defend against being devoured by Israeli expansionism, but as people who are in the same caliber of power and might as the Israelis.
As a consequence, occupation of land is almost never mentioned. Instead, it is Hamas and the Islamic Jihadist groups that are jammed into propagandist media reports whenever someone tries to scold Israel for its continuous violations. This selective framing leads to a skewed representation of the situation and diverts attention from the core issue of the ongoing occupation.
On the perils associated with occupation and settler colonialism, it is emphasized in the Geneva Convention that an occupying force is strictly prohibited from making changes to any element in the geography of the occupied territory. This means that an occupying force cannot change the land it occupies. Hence, upon its withdrawal, it is obliged to return the land exactly as it was. Now, if Israel were to relinquish control of the land it occupies, it will give the Palestinians a distorted territory where you cannot move from one area to another.
As a result of this land-for-peace strategy, discussing the two-state solution in the present time has become impractical and misleading; it has essentially become a myth. The reality is that there is hardly any viable Palestinian territory remaining to establish a state on. Instead, what remains are fragmented and scattered spots on the map, divided by numerous Israeli checkpoints and borders, making the idea of a cohesive Palestinian state increasingly unattainable.
Morocco, the most recent country to sign the Abraham Accords, maintains its support for the two-states solution as a compromised resolution. However, the modern reality places the Palestinians at a significant disadvantage. Therefore, it is entirely legitimate for them to refuse the two-state solution because it is not based on equal rights for the land which was theirs to begin with. Not only this, but if the Palestinians do agree to it, they must confront Israeli officials about which borders they are going to depend on to chart these states.
In light of the constantly unsuccessful peace talks with Israel, many experts on the subject propose that entering any peace negotiation with Israel in the future should start by mandating Israeli officials to accept human rights organizations and United Nations committees to extend their investigation in the country. They should be obliged to talk to these committees and let them work in the Occupied Territories and Gaza where most Israeli human rights violations take place. This is key to reaching a reconciliation with the Palestinians who are motivated by the death of their kin to resist even more ferociously.
The fact that Israelis refuse to permit any interrogation about their crimes, or any investigative commissions from the United Nations shows a blatant Israeli aversion towards making peace with Palestinians while they are still sharing a land with them.
Lastly, it is justifiable to declare the Palestine-Israel question as one of the most complex issues to resolve. It is undoubtedly made intricate by both sides. Specifically, the Palestinians have valid reasons to reject any compromises with Israel unless the occupation ceases and the annexed land is returned. Of course, Israel would never accept such demands unless it is compensated with land somewhere. In this sense, all the current and previous peace talks can be likened to a “conversation between the sword and the neck” as poignantly expressed by Ghassan Kanafani.
______________________________________________________________________________*Mohamed El Metmari is an independent writer and a researcher whose articles have been featured on platforms like Al Jazeera Arabic, the New Arab, SasaPost, the Palestine Chronicle, and Countercurrents… He contributed this essay to Countercurrents.