Tuesday, September 29, 2020




One of the expected benefits of the Abraham Accord is that Arab support for the Palestinian Authority, especially financial support, would no longer be automatic. Ideally, that would pave the way towards the Palestinian leadership realizing the need to change strategy and actually show up at the negotiating table.

The PA got a kick in the pants a week before the official signing of the Abraham Accord, when they attempted to get the Arab League to publicly condemn the accord -- to no avail. Instead of condemning the agreement, the Arab League refused to even acknowledge the Abraham Accord might be against the Arab consensus.

The Palestinian government's funding dropped by half with respect to foreign aid in the first seven months of the year, from $500 million in 2019 to $255 million in 2020, dropping in Arab aid during the same period by 85% – from $267 million in 2019 to $38 million in 2020.
Part of the drop in Arab aid is because of Covid, but part of it is because Trump has explicitly asked the wealthier Arab countries not to send money to the Palestinian government.

But if developments in the Arab world are tending towards bigger financial problems for the PA, there are other developments outside of the Middle East that are promising even more problems.

We are long past the time when diplomats and the media threatened Israel with isolation if they did not make the 'necessary' unilateral concessions to the Palestinian Arabs. Instead, between Israel's various technological and medical advances combined with Netanyahu's diplomacy, Israel is making headway in international relations that seem to dwarf the successes that Abbas made not so long ago.

Aaron David Miller, a Middle East analyst, wrote last week about how the Abraham Accords confounded the predictions of the experts -- including himself. Miller credits Netanyahu with the diplomatic successes that have helped make this possible, such as:
o  In 2016, Benjamin Netanyahu became the first Israeli prime minister in decades to travel to East Africa, where he met with leaders in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda
o  In 2017, he became Israel’s first prime minister to visit South America
o  Israel has expanded trade relations in east Asia
o  Netanyahu has established closer ties with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who, in 2017, became the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel.
o  Israel now has better relations with all 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council 
(China, France, Russian Federation, the UK, and the US) than at any time in its history
o  MASHAV, Israel’s international development agency, has programs in medicine, agriculture and education in developing countries around the world
Miller's point is the possible implications this wave of Israel's diplomatic successes could have for Abbas and the Palestinian Authority:
It may be the case that some of these countries see cooperation with Jerusalem as a way to stay in Washington’s good graces, especially during the Trump years. But it also suggests that much of the international community is no longer prepared to tie their own interests to the Palestinian cause and that they see real advantage in dealing with and benefiting from Israel’s technology and expertise. 
Even in the EU, there are signs that Europe is waking up to how their money is being used. According to that Jerusalem Post article:
Last June, European Parliamentarians called for a thorough investigation into how European taxpayers’ money is ending up in the hands of Palestinian terrorists, insisting that any loopholes in the law through which the money is slipping must be closed.
Added to that is the new economic agreement between Serbia and Kosova -- with Serbia saying it would move its embassy to Jerusalem, and Kosovo (which is Muslim) ready to establish diplomatic ties. Both Serbia and Kosovo are working towards acceptance into the EU. If successful, they would join countries such as Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia who have been sympathetic to Israel.

This could be important, because joint statements issued by the European Union in the name of EU member states require unanimous agreement. Back in February, when the EU was looking for unanimous agreement on condemning Trump's peace plan -- Hungary and Austria, among others, blocked the move. As a result, instead of a powerful condemnation, the EU was reduced to a statement by High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell -- alone.

Currently, the EU is making it clear they disapprove of Serbia's plans to move their embassy to Jerusalem. But even if Serbia gives in so that they will be accepted by the EU, this is still the addition of 2 states to the EU that could end up being part of a growing block within the EU that sympathizes with Israel.

That could further undercut the EU's support for the PA.

And Trump still has a month to go till the November elections.



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