kuttab50_Ramez HabboubPacific PressLightRocket via Getty Images_palestine Ramez Habboub/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Arab Betrayal of Palestine

For good reason, Arab and Muslim-majority countries have agreed that normalizing relations with Israel must be made conditional on the end of the occupation of Palestinian territories. By breaking with this consensus, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have undermined the prospects for peace.

AMMAN – It is normal for countries with deep disagreements nonetheless to maintain diplomatic, trade, and commercial relations. Yet there are also circumstances when such relations are regarded as non-starters. That is certainly the case for most countries vis-à-vis North Korea, but it also describes America’s previous stance on Cuba, and now Venezuela, as well as Israel’s policy on Iran, Saudi Arabia’s on Qatar, and much of the Arab world’s on Israel.

Given the importance of dialogue between countries, there is always a question of when to pursue or end normal relations with a “bad” actor. Historically, governments have cut ties with countries that have repeatedly violated international norms, carried out genocide and other atrocities, or whose behavior otherwise merits punishment. Obvious examples include Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union when it tried to deploy nuclear weapons in Cuba, and Iran, a country whose leaders routinely call for Israel’s destruction.

But if violating international norms, peddling racist rhetoric, and abusing people under one’s control constitute grounds for refusing normal relations with a country, aren’t Arab and majority-Muslim countries justified in their historic approach to Israel? While Israel acts democratically toward its Jewish citizens, its policy toward non-Jewish citizens and its decades-long occupation and colonization of Palestinian territories have been flagged by the United Nations as violations of international law.

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