The Palestinian “government”, and its President Mahmoud Abbas, are increasingly being isolated by the Middle Eastern power brokers consisting of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Oman, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Dubai, and others. The isolation is primarily the result of the Iranian Nuclear Agreement debacle pitting Shia Iran against virtually the balance of the Muslim Sunni Middle East.
- Iran presents an existential threat to the Sunni existence.
- Secondly, President Trump, during his meeting in Saudi Arabia with 50 Middle Eastern and African nations, refocused these nations into a coalition against terrorism, a nuclear Iran, and their own national economies by creating plans to convert their oil wealth into broader investment economies.
- Third, Iranian backed Palestinian Hamas terrorism and Iranian controlled terrorist organization Hezbollah carries out attacks against Sunni nations and supports anti-Sunni uprisings such as in Yemen.
In the late 1900’s, the Middle Eastern power brokers subsidized the Palestinian uprisings against Israel and in the case of Egypt, directly fought against Israel on behalf of the Palestinians. This was a significant source of revenue for Egypt but the Egyptian people eventually forgot why they were fighting against Israel! President Sadat of Egypt eventually signed a peace agreement with Israel extricating Egypt from a no-win war! Sadat’s bravery was rewarded in his assassination by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Shrinking Israeli Footprint: Since 1967, Israel has negotiated with the Palestinians and the US resulting in a diminishing land mass controlled by the Israelis. The map below shows the lands controlled by Israel in 1967 and the impact of agreements in 1993 and 2001.
Close Neighbor Support: The Palestinian government has been using terrorism attacks against Israel to continue to harass Israel. Jordan, Israel’s neighbor to the East, has provided lip service support to the Palestinians as have Syria and Lebanon. Jordan is being drained trying to deal with Syrian refugees, Syria’s civil war has decimated that government, and Lebanon has its own internal problems and fight against Iran backed Hezbollah. All three have other priorities now relegating the Palestinian cause moot. the Palestinian government is now somewhat isolated in dealing with Israel and on receives support in the United Nations. The UN Support is pretty much lip-service and has done little to change the conditions on the ground!
European Support: The Palestinians have solicited the support of EU nations and have been pretty successful gaining their votes in the UN Security Council and General Assembly. But, the EU does not want to get its hands dirty nor really give any real help to the Palestinians and risk the ire of the US under Trump.
Status Today: So, without the Middle East power player’s financial and military support, and only receiving tepid support from the EU, the Palestinians have been relegated to a paper tiger in the region. Yes, they can lob Iran supplied rockets from the Gaza strip and parts of the West Bank, but they have no real economic infrastructure from which to build a nation nor care for their people. Israel is committed to dealing with a recalcitrant Palestinian government and deal with their attacks on a case by case basis. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is tightly aligned and supported by the Trump Administration. Israel knows that President Trump has their back and the Palestinians know that President Trump will keep pressure on them to get to the table.
In short, the Palestinians prime support is coming from a Shia Iran who has become the prime enemy from the predominant Sunni Middle East. Without external financial support, the Palestinians cannot support themselves! President Trump just fired a shot across the Palestinian bow by recognizing Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and that the US would be moving their embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. This was a huge wake-up call for the Palestinians and took a bargaining chip off of the Palestinian side.
Yes, many of the nations of the world railed against the Trump decision to move our embassy to Jerusalem but in the final analysis, none of these phony expressions of outrage will change the new status quo between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinian government will have to decide if they want to become a real nation or merely exist as an irrelevant terrorist group. The contrast between the economies of Israel versus the Palestinians is stark at best.
- GDP: Israel’s GDP is US$138.5 Billion while the Palestinian GDP is a paltry US$10.5 Billion
- Exports: Israel exports equal US$92.3 Billion while the Palestinian exports are only US$6.47 Billion.
Palestinian President Abbas has a real challenge in trying to convince Palestinian Hamas to moderate and cut a deal.
Hamas is literally a terrorist organization is survive off of cash from other countries. They have no interest in governing! If their terrorist attacks escalate, Abbas risks the US directly supporting Israel. I am not sure if there is a deal to be had, but for the first time since 1948, conditions in the Middle East may force the Palestinians to wake up and negotiate in good faith. If not, they will remain an impoverished group without a real home.