On Sunday, the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt joined their American and Israeli counterparts for a first-of-its-kind summit at the Sde Boker farm in southern Israel, where the first Prime Minister lived. Israeli Minister Ben Gurion. and now he is buried.
Ben Gurion was responsible for the 1948 Palestinian catastrophe (Nakba), the horrific ethnic cleansing of most Palestinians from the land that later became Israel. But that did not dampen the appetites of Arab officials as they dined on “Ben Gurion rice” accompanied by meat from the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.
No stomach or heart pain was reported.
Food for thought.
The meeting took place on the 20th anniversary of the Arab League summit in Beirut, when the Arabs launched their major peace initiative, while Palestinian President Yasser Arafat languished under military siege in the occupied Palestinian territory.
The initiative promised peace and normalization of relations, but only after Israel withdrew from Palestinian and Arab lands. However, in recent years, defeated and divided, various Arab autocrats, threatened by the Arab Spring, rushed to normalize relations with Israel under American pressure, leaving the occupied Palestinians behind, with absolutely nothing, nothing, nothing.
The Palestinians saw that as a betrayal, a slap in the face. Well, do so many slaps.
None of the Arab ministers who visited the Ben Gurion farm bothered to show up in the occupied West Bank. Maybe too embarrassed. Perhaps worried about the response of the Palestinians.
And the essence of the summit was no less tragic than its symbolism.
Like the Ukrainians, the Palestinians are sacrificed on the altar of a new Cold War, albeit a regional one, with Israel and the United Arab Emirates camp on one side and the Iranian camp on the other.
This anti-Iranian axis came together after the Trump presidency backed away from the Iran Nuclear Deal and has continued despite attempts by the Biden administration to revive it.
In recent days, Israel and the United Arab Emirates have accelerated their efforts to “assemble an effective alliance against the common threat, Iran,” amid news of a possible diplomatic breakthrough in Wien. Israel and its new regional allies believe that a bad deal is worse than no deal, since it restricts their freedom to act militarily against Iran.
The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ) hosted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a first for the internationally sanctioned leader, in a bid to further normalize Syrian-Arab relations. Just a few days later, the UAE’s de facto ruler also met with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, hosted by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. .
A third meeting in Jordan followed, where MBZ was photographed walking arm-in-arm with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in the resort city of Aqaba, alongside Jordanian King Abdullah II and the Egyptian president.
Despite the charm offensive, Syria and Iraq remain uncompromising and continue to show signs that they are still leaning toward Iran, for political and strategic reasons. This is unlikely to change after sanctions are lifted and Tehran perks up.
Iran has already held at least three joint naval exercises with the Russian and Chinese militaries since 2019, and last year signed a 25-year comprehensive cooperation agreement with Beijing.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Bennett has warned that the US-Iran deal that is taking shape to restore the nuclear deal is weaker than the original deal and would lead to “a more violent and volatile Middle East.”
But this is not a mere prediction, but a self-fulfilling prophecy, considering that Israel insists that it will do everything possible to prevent Iran’s nuclear program and, together with the United Arab Emirates, will do whatever it takes to reduce Iran’s influence. in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Israel and the United Arab Emirates fear that Iran will be richer, stronger and revitalized after signing a renewed nuclear deal that will lead to the lifting of all Western sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Both especially fear that the Biden administration will remove Iran’s Revolutionary Guards from the US “terrorist list” in exchange for security guarantees.
But they believe Biden is so indifferent to their reservations about the nuclear deal, so dismissive of their fears of an emboldened Iran, and so worried about a resurgent Russia and a rising China, that he is turning his back on the Middle East.
Well, the Biden administration may be distracted today, considering the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but the United States is not absent from the Middle East, where tens of thousands of US troops are deployed on numerous military bases.
Still, Israel wants that the Biden administration understands that it sees Khamenei’s Iran as the US sees Putin’s Russia: a danger not only to itself and the region, but to the entire world.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has gone out of his way, perhaps too much, in recent days to emphasize that the United States and Israel continue to act together not only against Russia but also against Iran. In vain.
And if you ask your counterparts at the “Ben Gurion summit” to support the US in Russia, they will undoubtedly ask why the US does not support them in Iran.
With world powers preoccupied with their scorching new Cold War, the new Cold War in the Middle East is heating up under the surface with potentially disastrous consequences. And the Ukrainians and the Palestinians will be the first to pay the high price.
As the US condemns the now five-week Russian invasion and its possible plans to partition Ukraine, and lectures the world on democracy, Palestinians and Arabs roll their eyes in dismay, considering Washington’s unconditional support for Israel. after decades of its occupation of Palestine. and his persistent support for Arab dictatorships.
Imagine if the Russian foreign minister received his American counterparts and four of his European counterparts in Stalingrad, raising their vodka glasses in celebration, as Russia bombs, occupies and partitions Ukraine, urging the Ukrainians not to escalate tensions during the Easter season. He now tries to imagine how the Palestinians feel.