Diverting Attention from the Tragedy of Palestine
Leaders of the Arab states, in an Arab League summit meeting last month, found time to reaffirm their call for a two-state solution and their commitment to the 15-year-old Saudi-initiated peace plan that offers full and normal relations with Israel in exchange for ending the occupation of lands Israel conquered in the 1967 war. Modifications to the plan have made clear that mutually agreeable land swaps would be acceptable to the Arab governments. The summit meeting’s host, King Abdullah of Jordan, stated, “There can be no peace nor stability in the region without a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian cause, the core issue of the Middle East, based on the two-state solution.”
In addition to whatever this reaffirmation says about the Arab regimes’ walking-and-gum-chewing ability, it also puts the lie both to the notion that the region doesn’t care about the Palestinian issue any more and to the notion that the Arabs are unwilling to live in peace and in a normal relationship with Israel. This fresh statement by the Arab League received far too little attention in Washington and by the Trump administration.
Last week’s session at the Security Council demonstrated that, despite the efforts of Haley and Danon, people outside of their two governments really do still care a lot about the untenable and destabilizing plight of the Palestinians. The Council session, and the attempt to turn a discussion about Palestine into a discussion about Iran, also demonstrates how much the Trump administration’s tortured effort to attribute all malignity in the Middle East to Iran is motivated by the Israeli-originated use of Iran as a grand diversion. The Israeli government’s principal response whenever it begins to feel uncomfortable attention to its occupation is to declare that Iran is the “real problem” in the region and that’s what people should be giving their attention to instead. The Trump administration has been following the same script. That script is not an effective way to address either actual issues with Iran or the problem of an occupation that in a few weeks will reach the half-century mark.