The third Negev Forum met this week in Abu Dhabi.
The forum has participants from the United States, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco as well as Egypt.
The goal of the forum is to advance multilateral projects in the fields of health, regional security, education, water and food security, tourism and energy. It is not a peace summit - it is very focused on specific mutual interests to countries in the Middle East, to benefit all.
The US tried to get Palestinians to join the meeting. They refused. And Jordan said that they won't attend unless the Palestinians do.
Now, why won't the Palestinians attend? Certainly they could benefit from talks about health, water and energy. According to Arab News, the reason they refuse is "Palestinians view the forum as an attempt to sideline its key demands of independence and an end to the Israeli occupation."
But that is not what the forum is about.
The only way the Palestinian refusal makes sense is if you understand the Palestinian mindset.
They have joined lots of international forums - but, invariably, they use those platforms to attack Israel. Whether it is about the world's oceans, or climate, or women, or the disabled, the Palestinians enthusiastically join - and then the entire session grinds to a halt as a Palestinian representative uses his allotted time to bash Israel.
To them, these conferences not a means to join the world community as an equal member. They aren't for information exchange. They aren't to work together to solve problems. To Palestinians, international foraare arenas of war, nothing more.
But the Negev Forum accepts Israel as a permanent part of the Middle East. It isn't marginalized - it is a key player. And the Palestinians cannot stomach the idea that Israel itself is considered legitimate.
Palestinians cannot hijack this conference. So boycotting, and shaming Jordan to do the same, it meant to somehow injure the conference altogether.
This has nothing to do with settlements, or human rights, or international law. The Palestinians refuse to attend a regional forum where they would benefit because it accepts Israel's existence - and Palestinian leaders still hope Israel will disappear.
Their childish behavior here is further proof that they have no interest in peace or becoming a responsible state. The entire purpose of the Palestinian national movement has always been the destruction of Israel. And they think that boycotting this event helps that goal in a tiny, tiny way.
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