The decades-old refrain throughout the Washington DC policy establishment naively goes to the tune of, “Peace would grace the entire Middle East if only the Palestinian-Israeli conflict could be solved.” This thesis imagines a Middle East thoroughly consumed by the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, thrusting the plight of the Palestinians squarely on the shoulders of Israel.
But the recent deal between the United Arab Emirates and Israel upends this narrative – and suggests the Gulf states may be ready to side-step the greatest impediment to peace between Israelis and Palestinians: the Palestinian Authority (PA). In other words, it’s possible for the Gulf states to continue their longstanding commitment to the Palestinian people by the creation of an independent future investment initiative chartered to promote self-sufficiency.
The recent deal—and potential for future deals – proves that the seemingly insurmountable conflict in the Middle East is not Arabs versus Israelis. Rather, it is the PA’s oppression, suppression and repression of Palestinian people that crushes peace prospects. The UAE’s courageous move signifies that the Gulf states may be prepared to recognize this reality.
Since Israel is a military and economic powerhouse, the narrative goes, the plight of the Palestinians is a result of Israel’s presence. Millions of Palestinians remain powerless and under “occupation” in West Bank and Gaza. Several million Palestinian refugees remain in camps in Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon with no leverage or bargaining power. So, of course, Palestinian terror is justified or understood. And much of the world, including the US, has sought to help the Palestinian people by giving billions to the faction governing.
Ironically, the Middle Eastern party that has issued the most vociferous condemnation of an Arab-Israeli peace even beyond the Iranian and Turkish regimes is the PA. The PA has refused to respond to six consecutive offers for a secure, viable sovereignty since 2000, and rejects any cooperation or coordination with Israel, even at the cost of Palestinian lives.
Perhaps one can understand the Palestinian Authority boycott of the Bahrain conference. The promise of 50 billion dollars in start-up and regional assistance might have come with conditions. But a government rejecting Covid medical supplies because they passed through Ben Gurion is unconscionable. Just think of the suffering mothers and fathers.
For too long, the PA has sought to keep the Palestinian people poor and powerless while enriching its apparatchiks and functionaries with villas and cars, as recently detailed by Yasser Jadallah, the former political director of Abbas’ office. Unsurprisingly, recent polls reveal that 80% of Palestinians believe the PA is corrupt and not representative of the Palestinian public’s fundamental rights and requirements.
In addition, the PA has glorified violence against Israel through naming streets and schools after murderers of Israeli-Christians, Jews, and Muslims and continues to sponsor the Pay for Slay campaign with salary levels based upon terror results, even awarding stipends to families of suicide bombers. 7% of the PA’s budget is used for these terror incentives, money that could have been used for job training or economic cooperation with its tech-savvy neighbor.
However, with the recent deal, the UAE has set a new standard in regional and global peacemaking. By normalizing relations with Israel, the UAE has effectively acknowledged that Palestinian suffering is not at the hands of Israelis, but rather, at the hands of the PA.
Now is the time for the world, led by other Gulf states, to rescue the Palestinian people from their PA “prison” and help them to pave a path to a peaceful and economically thriving independence. To do so will require a new GCC relief organization that prioritizes the security and prosperity of the Palestinian people, not the enrichment of its corrupt and cancerous leadership.
This new organization – let’s call it “The Future Investment Fund (FIF) for the Palestinian People” – would need to be independent, both of the corrupt PA cronyism that has exploited the Palestinian people and of the UN, which has retarded Palestinian progress. The organization would be chartered to provide vocational training, coupled with tolerance and comity with all neighbors, based upon a peaceful Islam.
The courage of the UAE to throw out the false narrative regarding the Palestinian people and to make peace with Israel creates an opportunity for a new paradigm to help the Palestinian people to finally escape their incompetent and cruel leaders.
n effective relief organization, would engender a Palestinian civil society not dominated by the PA to enable a new, responsible Palestinian leadership that would ensure that the burgeoning Arab-Israeli normalization taking shape now will not leave the Palestinian people outside the expanding circle of regional peace and prosperity.
Sander Gerber is CEO of Hudson Bay Capital Management. He is a Distinguished Fellow at JINSA and a fellow at the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs.
Originally published in Fox News