Why Are Arabs Allowed to Exploit the Palestinians?
Contrary to Western media headlines, Arab policymakers and the Arab street are not focused on Palestinian rights and Al-Aqsa, but on their own chaotic, local and regional challenges, which are not related to the Palestinian issue.
For example, while the top Palestinian religious leader — Mufti Muhammad Hussein — castigates Arab leaders for their inaction on behalf of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Egyptian President General Sisi and the Egyptian people are preoccupied with internal problems. These include the dwindling level of tourism, which is a main source of national income; the lethal, domestic threat of Muslim Brotherhood terrorism; the Libyan chaos and its effective spillover into Egypt; the entrenchment of Islamic terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula; Gaza-based terrorism; the threatening collaboration between Turkey, Qatar and Iran; Turkey’s support of Hamas; and the potentially-explosive border with Sudan, among others.
General Sisi invests much more time in geostrategic coordination with Jordan, Saudi Arabia, other Arab Gulf States, the US and Israel than with the Palestinian Authority, which is perceived as a destabilizing entity.
According to the July 20, 2017 issue of the London-based Middle East Monitor, “Al Aqsa has been abandoned by those who profess the leadership of the Muslim World. … [Egypt’s and Saudi Arabia’s] cold indifference … is unworthy of institutions that profess to be the preeminent leaders of Muslims around the world. … Both countries are spearheading a regional drive for full normalization of relations with Israel. Their reasoning is that friendship with Israel is the best guarantee of US support for themselves.”
In another example, the London-based Palestinian newspaper, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, published a cartoon depicting the Arab world as an ostrich burying its head in the sand, while the Al-Aqsa Mosque bleeds.
Since 1948, and in defiance of Western foreign policy, academia and media establishments, the Arab/Islamic agenda has transcended the Palestinian issue.
While showering the Palestinian issue with substantial talk, the Arab and Islamic world’s actions have mostly been directed at other issues. The dramatic gap between the Arab walk and talk on behalf of Palestinians was particularly noticeable during the Israel-Palestinian wars of 1982 (in Lebanon), 1987-1991 (the First Intifada), 2000-2003 (Second Intifada) and the Israel-Hamas wars of 2009, 2012 and 2014.
Arabs have never shed blood — nor have Arabs dedicated their economic power — on behalf of the Palestinians.
Moreover, current Iraqi policymakers and the Iraqi street are well-aware of the intense Palestinian collaboration with the repressive regime of Saddam Hussein, which caused the Palestinian flight from Iraq following the fall of Saddam. And the Syrian street has not taken kindly to the Palestinian support of the Assad regime; this conflict, incidentally, has produced an expanding Palestinian emigration from Syria.
Furthermore, most Arab policymakers consider the well-documented Palestinian track record of terrorism directed against fellow Arabs to be a potential threat to domestic and regional stability. Jordan, for example, believes that Palestinian violence poses a deadly threat to the pro-US Hashemite regime, which could then spread southward to Saudi Arabia and other pro-US Arab Gulf states.
In the 1948, 1967 and 1973 wars, Arab countries did not fight Israel on behalf of Palestinians. Therefore, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt did not share the spoils of the 1948-49 war with Palestinians, prohibiting Palestinian activities in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and Gaza. In fact, a Palestinian Department was established by the Arab League, in 1949, but was scheduled to be dissolved in 1959.
Suggesting that the Palestinian issue is a core cause of Arab unrest and policymaking has failed to advance the cause of peace. The Al-Aqsa controversy has highlight the limited (and negative) role played by the Palestinian issue in Arab policymaking and peacemaking.