The Palestinian issue is suffering from an unprecedented decline in the levels of official Arab interaction while normalisation is currently the latest episode of this decline, as Arab countries are racing to build ties with the occupation state, some in exchange for political gains, and others without any gains or justifications that they could promote to their people and public opinion. Coinciding with this new wave of Arab normalisation with the occupation state, the occupied Palestinian areas, especially the city of Jerusalem, are suffering from escalating attacks, a systematic blockade, and a growing wave of Judaisation.
There is no way we can overlook the attacks and Judaisation projects witnessed in Jerusalem, as Judaising the occupied city is the culmination of the occupation’s plans. Moreover, its attempts to impose a new reality in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, through continuous interference in its administration, its continued intrusions, and attacks on the murabitoun and worshippers are escalating and coinciding with the escalation of settlement projects. The occupation government is seeking to take advantage of Trump’s last days in the White House, as the last months of 2020 witnessed the approval of many settlement projects, in terms of settlement infrastructure and bidding, in addition to the occupation forces continuing to demolish Palestinian homes and facilities, and bringing about direct demographic change in the occupied city.
This escalating wave of Judaisation comes as the Trump administration attempts to complete the final stage of the ‘deal of the century‘, by launching a wave of normalisation with the largest possible number of Arab countries; we are still in the midst of this wave. Trump hinted at the possibility of other Arab or Muslim countries joining this wave in an attempt to score his final political victories in the project of ending the Palestinian cause, by bringing the peoples of the region into the fold of the occupation.
An in-depth reading of the circumstances surrounding this new wave of normalisation, and its upcoming repercussions in the Palestinian and Arab spheres, shows a number of dangers. The following are the seven most prominent:
- From official to popular normalisation: This phenomenon could be the most prominent phenomenon of the new wave of normalisation, as the normalisation countries, especially the UAE, tried to hide their crime under the veil of popular acceptance. They did not deal with this normalisation as a political agreement only, as Arab countries that previously normalised did, but rather tried to promote it as a popular demand and accepted state. It promoted it as co-existence between two nations and peace between two countries that will bring good and blessings to the region, in clear disregard of what is happening in Palestine, and the continuous attacks suffered by Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza and the occupied territories. This was shown in pictures and video clips about the exchanged visits and the arrival of thousands of Israeli tourists to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
- Arab acceptance of the occupation’s assaults on the Palestinians: After the occupation turned into a “friendly” state, the pattern of Arab dealing with its aggressions and intrusive presence in the region definitely shifted. They have had to find justifications for the Judaisation attack targeting the entire Palestinian presence, which began to manifest years ago. This was carried out alongside promotion of the Palestinians’ ingratitude and claims that the Arabs offered a lot, but the Palestinians offered nothing. This intense targeting, through the media and social media, began to make breakthroughs in the conscience of the Arab peoples.
- Occupation shifting from the top enemy to the best friend: The new wave of normalisation has engrained the change in the priorities of Arab national security over the past few years, as the traditional definition of friend and enemy is no longer valid. The Palestinian issue is no longer a top priority in most normalised countries. The major changes in the region and Trump’s actions have turned the occupation state into the best friend of the normalised countries and turned the resistance and those advocating for the Palestinian cause and the existence of the Palestinian people into an enemy that should be pursued, defamed and confronted. The siege on the resistance and its supporters escalated and has become a major siege harming the sources of funding and the those affiliated with the resistance have been arrested. Furthermore, the assassination of figures who contribute to developing and supporting the resistance effort has become facilitated and the arrests of dozens of Palestinians in Saudi Arabia is nothing but a picture of this dramatic transformation.
- The infiltration of the century: These normalisation agreements allow an increase in the influence of the occupation and open the doors of the normalised countries to allow for further Israeli infiltration in exchange for nominal gains. The experiences of Arab countries that normalised relations with the occupation in the seventies and nineties are an example to us, as normalisation did not end their economic problems. They are problems that were rooted while their security needs increased in order to protect their relationship with the occupation.
- Normalisation is a cover for Judaising Jerusalem: As for the effects of normalisation on Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa, its indications began to appear in succession. These signs give us a clear picture that this wave will have severe effects on the occupied city. Most of the normalised regimes aligned with the occupation’s theses about the occupied city, accepted its view on Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa, and justified the settlers’ intrusions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque in their “peace agreements”, making their performance of Talmudic prayers a “right” similar to the right of Muslims to pray in it. This allows the occupation to further attack the mosque and to turn the spatial division of the mosque into a reality soon.
- Creating Arab intrusions into Al-Aqsa: Among the dangers of this wave of normalisation is the establishment of Arab and Muslim intrusions into Al-Aqsa under the cover of “visiting and praying in it,” which is a visit that will only be open to “peaceful” individuals, i.e. any Arab entering Al-Aqsa under the occupation’s agenda, agreeing to its narrative that seeks to replace Al-Aqsa with the “Temple”. They will be welcomed, and the occupation forces will provide them with protection and care even inside Al-Aqsa. As for the free people of the nation who are committed to the Arab right to Jerusalem, they are “troublemakers” in the eyes of the occupation and the normalising regimes and are not wanted.
- Distorting the perceptions of future generations: The current normalisation will not only affect the present generation but will extend to future generations and establish the occupation’s position in the region. It is an attempt to separate these generations from their original principles and adherence to their central issues, foremost of which is preventing them from possessing the will to liberate and breaking the barriers of psychological hostility against the Israelis. It will lead to the falsification of the nation’s awareness by intensifying media programs and series that aim to change the image of the occupier in the popular perception of the nation, which is what we have begun to see through changing educational curriculums and cancelling everything that refers to the occupation.
The dangers of normalisation are not limited to these seven points. Normalisation is the way for the current regimes to establish their foundations and fight their peoples by transforming the battle in our region from a struggle for Palestinian and Arab rights, and confronting the ambitions and plans of the occupation, to a devastating battle within the Arab interior and an establishment of fear. These regimes will try to silence every voice that wants to confront normalisation in any way possible, and rebuild alignments and axes that only serve the occupation and its position in the region. This calls for more Arab and Muslim efforts to confront this wave of normalisation, as the current stage calls for the mobilisation of all possible energies as the consequences of the current wave will not be minor.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Arabi21 on 4 January 2020
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.