The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has primarily been a demonstration of a world that has turned its back on Palestine and is determined to allow the wholesale killing of Palestinians to go on uninterrupted. Sadly, there was no one to represent the Palestinian people. Tragically, Mahmoud Abbas, a man who stands at the head of an organization that enables the ongoing suffering of the Palestinian people, was introduced as the "President of the State of Palestine."
Abbas' performance was a farce. He resorted to language that was outdated and irrelevant. His remarks constituted little more than begging for an international "peace conference" and the implementation of the Two State Solution. He said, "Our people are defending their homeland and their legitimate rights," big words from the head of an organization that collaborates with Israel to silence Palestinians who lead the resistance. Had his actions not been so clearly motivated by self-preservation and greed, one might have thought he was sincere in his call for liberty and independence.
What was sorely missing from the General Assembly was a call to end all relations with Israel. The call for the Two State Solution is an admittance that Israel is a legitimate entity that deserves a seat at the table rather than a rogue, terrorist entity that should be defeated. Israel is the problem, but no one dares to say this out loud. It is not "the occupation," a term that has become increasingly vague with time, but the existence of the apartheid state known as Israel. That statement was missing, and until it is made clear by leaders of the international community, there will be no progress.
The Saudi initiative
The Saudi initiative - if implemented - will not only provide the Saudi regime a strategic alliance with the United States but - and this is a big but - if the normalization with Israel materializes, it will give further, unprecedented legitimacy to Israel within the Arab and Muslim world. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu correctly stated that once this deal is completed, the rest of the Arab and Muslim world will follow through with normalizing relations with Israel. Netanyahu specifically mentioned Indonesia and Malaysia - two countries that Israel has been courting for many years and where the Palestinian Authority representative has already expressed full support for normalization.
The Saudi Deal will be the final nail in the coffin of the Palestinians in the international arena, and the Israelis know this. A warning call needs to be made about the dangers of this deal and the enormous consequences it will surely have for Palestine and the Palestinian people.
The Palestinian Authority has made it clear that they support the deal as long as they receive the funding they asked for. Representatives of the Palestinian Authority around the world have made it clear that they do not oppose normalization with Israel, thus lending their hand to strengthening Israel and eliminating Palestine from the world stage.
Without a clear message from government and non-governmental organizations who understand the dangers of this deal and the normalization process, we will witness the total collapse of any initiatives in the international arena that speak about the Palestinian issue. Countries like Algeria, Cuba, Malaysia, Pakistan and other countries that still maintain a moral stance regarding Palestine must organize a front to oppose the efforts to normalize, an effort in which the Saudi Deal is the flagship.
Israel's Tourism Minister Haim Katz is visiting Saudi Arabia as these words are being written for a United Nations conference. He is the first Israeli minister to lead a delegation to the Kingdom. Following Israel's Minister of Tourism visit, several other Israeli officials plan to visit the country. According to the "Times of Israel," Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi will be in Saudi Arabia to attend the Universal Postal Union's 2023 Extraordinary Congress in Riyadh.
The fact that these two senior government officials are allowed to participate in international conferences in Saudi Arabia sends a dangerous signal to countries trying to keep Israeli teams and delegations out. If the 'great' Saudi Arabia is normalizing, and the Palestinian Authority supports it, why should Indonesia and Bangladesh stand on the sidelines?
If anything was made clear during the UNGA, it is that breaking the Israeli stronghold on the discourse is more challenging than ever. What may perhaps be Israel's greatest achievement is the existence of the Palestinian Authority representatives to do its work. It keeps the Palestinian issue within the boundaries of the Two State Solution. Since Israel claims that the Palestinian Authority is an extremist element, it follows that the Two State Solution that the PA promotes is also extreme. Where does that leave those who challenge the legitimacy of Israel? Beyond the pale of the conversation on this issue.
When governments that do stand with Palestine take a position, as some heads of state did in their speeches at the UNGA, their position is defined by the Palestinian Authority, which works with Israel to ensure no progress is made toward the liberation of Palestine. The magic of the Two State Solution is that it allows countries to support Palestine, and at the same time, it gives legitimacy to Israel. This means that countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, among others, can continue to do business with Israel while maintaining the facade of support for Palestine.
This is why Israel maintains a presence in Arab and Muslim countries, albeit in some cases that presence is covert, and it has over forty missions in Africa, a continent that historically suffered greatly from Israel and where support for Palestine was strong. Israeli presence in Africa has been strengthened over the years, and support for the Palestinian cause has been weakened considerably.
It will be up to governments and non-governmental organizations to take up the mantle of challenging the Palestinian Authority - something that Palestinians have been trying to do for years - and to replace the conversation about the Two State Solution with that of a free, democratic Palestine from the River to the Sea.
Feature photo |Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, September 21, 2023. Craig Ruttle |AP
Miko Peled is a MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are" The General's Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine," and " Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five."