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Closing down Palestinian embassy in Washington: End of the cause?

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Published: Updated:

The red building in Wisconsin Avenue in Washington was until few days ago the headquarters of the General Delegation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, i.e. the embassy of the “State” of Palestine in the US.

It carried an important symbolic value on the political level, which was eliminated when the US State Department notified the Palestinian mission it was shutting it down for good and asked the mission’s head Ambassador Husam Zomlot to leave the country along with his family.

The presence of a Palestinian diplomatic mission in the US came as a result of the Oslo Agreement which recognized Palestinian presence and which was also recognized internationally for the first time.

Despite the criticism, the Oslo Agreement is a historic political project that revived the PLO and the cause were buried as a result of expelling the PLO from Beirut and its departure by sea to Tunisia. Oslo failed because extremist regional regimes and extremists from both the Palestinian and Israeli sides thwarted the few chances, which gave the opportunity to resolve the Palestinian cause.

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Since the beginning of the conflict everyone knew that changing the Palestinian situation can only happen either via war, and the possibility of its eruption is like a mirage, or negotiations.

Due to the Palestinian officials’ unrealistic approach, they showed up to negotiate when it was too late. The Palestinians now have so little. As time passed by, their rights on the land decreased due to their continuous rejection and verbal bids.

In addition to the Palestinian leadership’s desperation, which it has been suffering from for years, the leadership does not understand the character of President Donald Trump. Since the beginning of his presidential term, one of Trump’s acquaintances warned: Try to understand how to disagree with him otherwise he will throw you under the bus!

This is what happened to Abu Mazen whose friends are now rushing to get him from under the bus. Among the mistakes committed by the Palestinian leadership is that it tried a confrontation and forgot that the American government has huge influence on Palestinian activity as it’s the largest funder of the Palestinian refugees and their organization UNRWA contributing around quarter of a billion dollars each year.

One of the major mistakes is believing that Palestine is a pivotal cause which Arabs and Muslims will not give up on. Truth is they have given up on it a long time ago as each state is preoccupied with its causes

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Dispatched delegates

When delegates dispatched by President Trump went to the Occupied Palestinian Territories to explain their ideas, the Palestinian leadership refused to receive them. The leadership was angry because the American government had executed an old decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Of course we understand the anger of the Palestinian Authority but the opposite should have happened; the Palestinians should have met the American delegation and not reused to meet them. Sitting down and talking about the problem would have been the right approach.

We all know that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is a pragmatic politician who has long experience in resolving disputes both on the domestic and foreign levels and that’s why he’s still governing to this day.

He managed to confront rivals like Hamas with the least amount of damage. Although he hates taking up high-risk political projects, he’s aware that the US comes in second, after Israel, in terms of negatively or positively affecting his citizens’ lives.

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Of course, it is possible that there is intent to get rid of the Palestinian cause by eliminating the refugee status in the UN, suspending their budget, decreasing support to the Authority and ending its diplomatic presence.All this is very possible and is the result of the laziness and failure in managing previous peace projects over the course of 30 years. It’s normal that a day comes when the rest of the stances are finalized.

One of the major mistakes is believing that Palestine is a pivotal cause which Arabs and Muslims will not give up on. Truth is they have given up on it a long time ago as each state is preoccupied with its causes.

Egypt has finalized its stance since Camp David and Jordan did the same when it signed the Wadi Araba Treaty. Syria has practically before them signed the disengagement agreement after the 1973 War and Golan has become Israel’s most secure border area.

As for Lebanon, it is a helpless country controlled by Iran; otherwise it would have been the first Arab country that seeks a peace agreement with Israel.

This is the truth, which the dreamers in the Arab world must realize. This truth is what pushed late President Yasser Arafat to sign the Oslo Accords as or else he and all other Palestinian leaders will live and be buried in foreign countries.

This article is also available in Arabic.
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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.

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