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Israel-U.A.E. Deal Swaps One Nightmare for Another for Palestinians

The Palestinian polity has long been weak, divided between the portions of the West Bank nominally controlled by Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, and his rivals in Hamas, the Islamic militant group that dominates the impoverished coastal territory of Gaza.

The struggle now is not just against Israel, but to remain relevant.

“Whatever happens, I’m the only thing that needs to be resolved,” said Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee and its veteran chief negotiator. Insisting that ultimately, the Palestinian question could not be dismissed or ignored, he added, “I’m the fact on the ground. I’m the real fact on the ground.”

Further, Mr. Erekat noted, “There was never a single Emirati who fought the Israelis in any war. There’s no war between the Emirates and Israel.”

Indeed, Israel and the Emirates have quietly cooperated for years on security and trade. Israeli ministers have openly visited, and Israel maintains a small office at the International Renewable Energy Agency in Abu Dhabi, one of the seven Emirates. There is also a synagogue and a resident rabbi there, Levi Duchman, originally from New York.

Palestinian relations with the Emirates, by contrast, have been sour for almost a decade. Abu Dhabi plays host to Muhammad Dahlan, a former Gaza security chief turned vitriolic critic of Mr. Abbas and his nemesis in exile. Palestinian Finance Ministry records indicate that the Emirates have not sent funds to the Ramallah-based government since 2014.

“They don’t even invite us to their national day,” Mr. Erekat said.

The Emirates may also have been emboldened by the weariness of the wider Arab public and the almost apathetic response to earlier consensus-shattering moves by the Trump administration, such as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the United States embassy to the disputed city.

Source: NYT > World News

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