On September 22nd, Palestinian intelligence services have arrested seven supporters of Muhammad Dahlan, a former senior Fatah member who has lived in the UAE since 2011.
The arrests of supporters of the fugitive functionary are associated with the fact that Dakhlan is suspected of involvement in the deal to normalize relations between the Emirates and Israel.
According to Nabil Shaat, special adviser to the head of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), Dahlan has repeatedly acted against the interests of his Palestine and its people, and now has played a role in establishing Emirati-Israeli relations.
This is in line with a comment by Israeli experts immediately after the deal was signed.
“The normalisation agreement between the UAE and Israel opens the door for Dahlan’s return to the Palestinian arena, and renews his attempts to assume the position of the Palestinian Authority president, which may pave the way for talking about the end of the political alliance between Dahlan and Hamas, and the establishment of strongholds for him in the West Bank, waiting for the appropriate time to return to Ramallah,” Yoni Ben-Menachem, former Israeli officer in the Military Intelligence Service – Aman.
“Dahlan disappears from time to time and then surprises the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank with his return again, and now Dahlan returns to the Palestinian arena thanks to the Emirati normalisation agreement with Israel as the special adviser to Mohammed Bin Zayed, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, who participated in concluding the agreement with Israel,” he added.
Mohammed Dahlan is also one of the political rivals of the current head of the PNA, Mahmoud Abbas: in particular, a few days ago, Israel Hayom said that Washington is considering Dahlan as the future head of the PNA.
Mohammed Dahlan is being persecuted not only by the current Palestinian administration, but also by the Turkish authorities: Ankara considers him one of the organizers of the failed military coup in 2016, as well as an agent of Israeli intelligence and supporter of Fethullah Gülen.
In both Bahrain and UAE there is support, but also a lot of opposition of the normalization deals signed with Israel.
Many feel that the Palestinians have been abandoned to the benefit of Tel’Aviv and Washington.
It is unknown if the normalization this time would lead to anything. Prior to this, the only Arab countries that have had normalized relations with Israel were Egypt and Jordan.
And all the while most Arab countries were tying normalizations to Israel withdrawing from the occupied territories and facilitates a just and legal solution to the Palestinian refugee question.
This time, with Bahrain and the UAE, the sequence of this appears reversed. Normalization first – “perhaps” withdrawal and the annexations stop.
The “perhaps” is important, because there is no guarantee stipulated in any of these agreements that Israel will not annex Palestinian territories. The road to regional stability will go through more normalization efforts such as these, and, so it is suggested, the international community can expect further normalization going forward.
This is likely a result of the fact that in 2020, the Palestinian issue is of much less significance for most Arab states than it was in the past, due to various issues that the countries in the Middle East need to deal with, both internally and externally.
And Israel appears to be taking full advantage of that.
Even as Israel proclaims diplomatic success in the Gulf, the reaction across Arab public platforms, be it on social media or media outlets, has drawn attention to Israel’s increased sense of impunity in dealing with Palestinians on the ground. In the past month, there has been a major spike in the demolition of Palestinian homes by Israeli forces and Israeli military incursions into Palestinian territory. Israel has made it clear that it does not feel treaty-bound to stop annexing Palestinian territory in the future, let alone withdraw from occupied territories.
As such, true normalization appears far off in the distance, and it is currently just a formal maneuver.
Countries such as Kuwait, Qatar and still Saudi Arabia reject normalization.
The US and UAE are holding a “decisive” meeting with Sudan to normalize relations with Israel.
According to the report, which was also published in English on the Axios website, Sudan is asking for a wide-reaching economic support package, and if an agreement is reached, could announce a deal with Israel in the coming days.
Essentially, this may mean that the normalization is regarded as entirely formal by the Arab states and, in the case of Sudan, an attempt to receive some sort of assistance or benefit.
For Yemen’s Houthis and Iran, the normalizations, however, are worrisome news.
For the Houthis, this means that the UAE could focus more heavily on the situation in Yemen, since it allegedly has one less issue to worry about and can focus more on the Saudi-led intervention there.
Furthermore, Israel is reportedly establishing reconnaissance bases on Yemeni islands, and as such may provide some sort of assistance in the fight.
In Iran’s case every normalization deal means one less “conditional ally” in the case of conflict in which Israel is involved.
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