Middle East Monitor / February 2, 2021
When news of the “Abraham Accords” broke last year, Israel’s impending annexation of the occupied West Bank was side-lined. The new diplomatic opportunities in line with what the international community itself pursues with Israel, and which also validated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claims that the Palestinian cause was no longer a priority for Arab countries, gave international diplomats some breathing space.
For months, the focus was on how the UN and the EU would act to stop Israel’s annexation plans. The blatant violation of international law was not yet normalised and world leaders were expected to take a stance, but the usual dithering was pushed aside and then US President Donald Trump brokered the normalisation agreements, thus suspending the need for formal recognition of Israel’s colonial expansion.
Last month, the The Jerusalem Post ran an article discussing the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s spin on the normalisation agreements, credited to Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and the Deputy Director-General for Europe, Anna Azari. According to Azari, European states act as if “the Palestinians come before anything else.” She said that Ashkenazi’s slogan, “from annexation to normalisation” paved the way for a mutual understanding with the EU. The bloc claimed Azari, assume that “peace processes with other countries, which they mostly call normalisation, means we will abandon the Palestinians.”
Unless Azari is referring to the fact that the Palestinian people have been abandoned for decades, the EU is right in stating that the normalisation agreements are a collective decision to ignore Palestinians’ political demands. However, the EU has failed to take a stance for years. Apart from funding the Palestinian Authority and defending two-state diplomacy and its trappings, including the illusions of Palestinian state building with institutions giving a semblance of a state, the EU has been prioritising Israel’s demands and disseminating the Israeli narrative, while giving it preferential trade deals into the bargain.
“From annexation to normalisation” is simplistic, yet it serves to deflect criticism from the European bloc and the international community, both of which refused to consider the suspension of annexation for what it is, a means to buy time for Israel until a more opportune moment comes along, no matter how long that takes. In the meantime, Israel continues to expand the expansion of its illegal settlement, which sees the EU back in its element, urging the Zionist state to stop building settlements while failing to connect such colonial expansion to de-facto annexation of Palestinian territory.
“[Settlements are] counterproductive in light of the positive developments of normalisation agreements between Israel and a number of Arab states,” declared EU spokesman Peter Stano. Not really; normalisation is merely the next step in Israel’s annexation plans because it ensures the silence and complicity of the Arab states in return for diplomatic and economic agreements.
Furthermore, normalisation puts Arab states on a par with the international community in terms of relations with Israel. The Palestinians have been forgotten for decades, and the normalisation agreements sealed the deal on annexation. The only difference is that now there is a framework for the Arab abandonment of Palestine, to which the international community is definitely not averse.
Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger; her writing covers a range of themes in relation to Palestine, Chile and Latin America