Arab disunity playing into Israel’s hands

Arab disunity playing into Israel’s hands

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is weighing a limited initial annexation in the occupied West Bank. (AFP)
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Many observers believe Israel’s potential annexation of the Jordan Valley will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, forcing the Arab world to unify against Tel Aviv’s illegal actions. But I don’t believe Israel’s imminent land grab will provoke strong protest from the Arab world, which has been divided since time immemorial. This lack of unity has prevented it from becoming the potent force needed to define the world in which Arabs live.

It doesn’t matter that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has ended all agreements with Israel as a result of the annexation plan. It doesn’t matter that Jordan’s King Abdullah says annexation would be a violation of its empty peace accord with Israel. Most of Europe has condemned the plan, while Democratic US presidential candidate Joe Biden has said he is against annexation and that, if he is elected in November, he will “reverse Trump administration steps which I think significantly undercut the prospects of peace.”

Despite all of its atrocities, war crimes and violations of the international rule of law, Israel knows that no red line exists that it cannot cross.

Technically, Israel doesn’t need to annex any land in the West Bank. It already controls it, managing it with its military occupation and building and expanding its illegal Jewish-only settlements.

Despite all of its violations of international law, Israel knows that no red line exists that it cannot cross

Ray Hanania

The failure of the Arab world to act effectively has conditioned Israel to believe, accurately, that it can do anything. No one can stop it. The Arabs will express indignation, but that’s where it will stop. The only time they ever flexed their muscles in an effective way was also in October 1973, when the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries imposed a punishing oil embargo that quadrupled the price of oil. That embargo was the main reason the US forced Israel to withdraw its troops from Egypt and allowed Cairo’s forces to remain in the Sinai.

Today, the Arabs could unify and maintain a nonaggressive posture against Israeli annexation.

It is not too late for the Arab world to act and recover its dignity; to embrace a unified and effective foreign policy to push back against Israel’s land thefts and settlement building. All the Arabs need to do is unify and suspend all contacts with Israel’s government.

After suspending all cooperation with Israel, the Arabs’ second step should be to make it clear what their demands are. The third step would be the toughest: To implement a public relations strategy that directly lobbies the global public, particularly the American and Israeli people.

• Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist. He can be reached on his personal website at Twitter: @RayHanania

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