All roads lead to Jerusalem

Nowadays, it is as if Arabs have shifted their focus from their historical cause of Palestine to Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and terror

Raed Omari
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Nowadays, it is as if Arabs have shifted their focus from their historical cause of Palestine to Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and terror. Such an urgent and emergent projection of priorities is received by many Arab people, especially Palestinians, with distress and dismay. A Palestinian politician issued a short statement full of sadness, disappointment and coyly expressed wrath: “Unfortunately, Palestine is no longer Arabs’ central cause and their first and foremost priority.”

Since the beginning of the so-called Arab Spring in 2011, there has been a dispute on whether Palestine is still, or should be, Arabs’ central cause or whether the region’s focus should be shifted to other hotbed of unrest in Syria, Iraq, Libya and now Yemen. For many, Arabs have betrayed their mega cause by giving priority and doing more for other issues. For others, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya are as important as Palestine and, consequently, they deserve urgent attention. In between two such extreme views, there is a third less radical current seeing Palestine as Arabs’ first and foremost central cause and the pivot around which all the region’s matters revolve. According to such a view, which I myself advocate, the whole controversy has to do with urgency vs. supremacy.

Shifting attention

There is no doubt nowadays that events in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and the accompanying terror are gripping the focus of the international press and diplomatic circles, but Palestine, or the long-running Palestinian-Israeli conflict, is always there in the background. While it’s true that the divisions among the Palestinian political factions have caused some harm to the ‘alluring’ image of their righteous cause and that the crises in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen have turned riskier than the decades-long Arab Israeli conflict – at least in terms of the number of causalities – Palestine will remain the region’s central issue not only emotionally, religiously, historically and culturally but also politically and strategically.

It’s no exaggeration that most of the region’s emergent problems are the direct outcome of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict

Raed Omari

It’s no exaggeration that most of the region’s emergent problems are the direct outcome of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. All that is needed from someone observing the escalating incidents in the Middle East is a short moment of tranquility to come to the conclusion that most of the consequences the region is undergoing nowadays are the result of the absence of a just and lasting solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the two-state solution or any other formula that guarantees the realization of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people – paramount of which is the establishment of an independent state of their own. Let’s not disagree that the absence of solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is in a way or another the direct cause of the region’s major plague of radicalization and the accompanying discourse of hatred and even what is thought of as the beginning of a new crusade.

Urgent crises

Iraq, the Arab world’s eastern gate, Syria, its northern front, Yemen, its southern corner and Libya, its gateway to the Mediterranean and Europe are all as important as Jerusalem but the whole matter has to do again with re-shifting focus and priority. For those dismayed with such shift, they have to know that Arabs cannot afford to postpone handling urgent crises in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen and focus on their ancient cause Palestine simply because the outcome will definitely be the unleashing of a new colonial power in the region (Iran) or allowing radical organizations, like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, to have a say in shaping the region’s fate and history.

Palestine is still also a major priority for the international community. Let’s not forget that a the two-state solution is a major dispute between the Obama administration and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right party in addition of course to Iran’s nuclear file. I was once told by a veteran British diplomat that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a major

component of London’s foreign policy at all times but the British prefer that the two sides formulate an agreed upon solution.
The issue of whether Palestine is still Arabs’ central cause or not was better put by Jordanian veteran politician and prolific writer Adnan Abdu Audeh, who said: “The whole controversy is like the difference between centralization and centrality.” At the end of the day, Palestine will remain at the very heart of the region’s stability and the entire world’s peace. Or, as it was once put by Jordan’s King Abdullah, “all roads lead to Jerusalem.”


Raed Omari is a Jordanian journalist, political analyst, parliamentary affairs expert, and commentator on local and regional political affairs. His writing focuses on the Arab Spring, press freedoms, Islamist groups, emerging economies, climate change, natural disasters, agriculture, the environment and social media. He is a writer for The Jordan Times, and contributes to Al Arabiya English. He can be reached via [email protected], or on Twitter @RaedAlOmari2

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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