Abbas Slams Normalization Deal as Palestinians Ignore Calls for 'Day of Rage'

Palestinian president says deals with Gulf states will not bring regional peace as long as occupation continues, calls for right to a state within 1967 borders

Jack Khoury
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Palestinians wave national flags during a protest against normalization ties between the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain with the Israel, in Ramallah, September 15, 2020.
Palestinians wave national flags during a protest against normalization ties between the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain with the Israel, in Ramallah, September 15, 2020. Credit: AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed
Jack Khoury

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that the normalization agreements Israel signed with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain will not bring regional peace as long as the occupation continues, while calls by Palestinian factions for a "day of rage" were received with indifference in the Palestinian street.

"Everything that  will not bring peace to the region, as long as the United States and Israel as an occupying entity do not recognize the rights of the Palestinian people to establish their state within , with East Jerusalem as its capital, and resolving the refugee issue" according to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194, said a statement by the president's bureau.

The statement continued by saying "the Palestinian leadership emphasizes that it did not authorize anyone to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people instead of the PLO, and that the main conflict is not between the states that signed the agreement with Israel but with who are groaning under occupation," adding that "there will be no stability and security in the region without an end to the occupation."

Dozens protested Tuesday at Manara Square in central Ramallah, what was to have been the main rally called for by Palestinian factions, particularly Fatah. Although the Palestinian Authority supported the call for mass protest, response was limited, both due to the coronavirus and public apathy. “This indifference doesn’t mean that the Palestinian public supports the agreement; on the contrary, there is a great deal of anger, but there is also no faith that if the protest and rage manifest themselves in the street it will lead to a change in policy and influence decision makers,” a Fatah activist in Ramallah told Haaretz.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas holds up a Vision for Peace map while speaking at the UN Security Council in New York, February 11, 2020.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas holds up a Vision for Peace map while speaking at the UN Security Council in New York, February 11, 2020. Credit: AFP

According to the activist, despite declarations by senior officials in the PA of a “day of rage,” there were no sights of impending escalation and hard work would be required to restore the faith of the grassroots.

Secretary General of Saeb Erekat also slammed the two Gulf States after their signing of the U.S. brokered deals with Israel at the White House on Tuesday. "Bahrain and the Emirates have agreed that [Jerusalem's] al-Aqsa Mosque will be under Israeli sovereignty. [UAE Foreign Minister] Abdullah bin Zayed spoke of a Palestinian state but did not mention the 1967 borders." Erekat added that U.S. President Donald Trump's senior adviser, , "does not allow the two foreign ministers in the Emirates and Bahrain to speak out in favor of a state within the 1967 borders. Everything we saw tonight was explicitly written in the deal of the century."

Jibril Rajoub, secretary general of , also responded to the White House ceremony, describing it as "a sign of disgrace and shame for those countries," adding that "the absence of an international presence from the ceremony is proof that the world refuses to accept the American dictation and the world believes in resolving the conflict according to the decisions of the international community."

General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative and senior member of the PLO, Mustafa Barghouti, described the deals to Haaretz as "a lousy show and a kind of cartoon, which is supposed to serve Trump and Netanyahu, who are each in trouble in their own arena." According to Barghouti, the fact that the foreign ministers of the two Gulf States attended the ceremony indicates "that even and Bahrain understand that this is not a real peace but a show." He said, "Anyone who wants to make real peace cannot ignore the Palestinians, and the rocket fire during the incident proved it."

Barghouti was referring to the two from the during the ceremony. spokesman Hazem Qassem said after the strikes that "the agreements with Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are not worth the ink and paper they were signed with." He added, "The Palestinian people are determined to continue the struggle to achieve their full rights and will treat these agreements as non-existent."

Palestinians watch TV broadcast before of the White House signing ceremony, in Tubas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank September 15, 2020.
Palestinians watch TV broadcast before of the White House signing ceremony, in Tubas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank September 15, 2020. Credit: REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta

In recent days, Palestinian leaders have spoken publicly about a popular protest rally. A member of the Fatah Central Committee, Azzam al-Ahmad spoke even before the weekend about the establishment of a united leadership for popular Palestinian protest.

’ advisor, Nabil Sha’ath spoke over the weekend about the possibility of a popular intifada in protest against the normalization agreements: “We are preparing for a third intifada and there is Palestinian consensus that all the factions are united against the plot against the Palestinian people,” Sha’ath said in an interview with the Lebanese news channel Al Mayadeen. Sha’ath did not give details as to how the Palestinian leadership intended to implement the protest.

The response of the Arab community in Israel was also limited. A few dozen people protested in the form of a human chain, including and representatives of political movements. Speaking at the scene, the chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee Mohammad Barakeh said that although the agreement would be signed, in the end the Israelis have to understand that peace had to be made with the Palestinians and peace would only come after the end of aggression and occupation and the fulfillment of Palestinian rights.

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