West Bank Obstacles

The following article relates to the situation on the ground, at the date of going to press.

There has been much written on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in particular as it relates to the disputed territory known as the West Bank (aka Shomron & Judea). It is not within the scope of this article to cover more than how it relates to the Abraham Accords. There has been a tacit acknowledgement by the Arab states party to the accords to move forward with relationships with Israel, despite any apparent resolution of the sovereignty issue.

Sovereignty refers to the annexation within Israel of the Jewish occupied parts of the disputed West Bank territory. In September 2020, the Israeli Prime Minister confirmed approval to build thousands of new residential units there. Interestingly, while the participating Arab states had just weeks earlier threatened to boycott moves to annex parts of the West Bank to Israel, there was no noisy reaction to the later mention of new building activity. More poignant is the fact that peace signing ceremonies took place after the announcement of new building activity. However, does such a quiet reaction auger well for the Abraham Accords going forward, will it withstand a more committed Israeli stance to the Jewish settlements through granting sovereignty?

Another angle to this puzzle concerns relations between the moderate Arab states and the PA. The muted response from the aforementioned Arab states underlines a fine line they walk between possible internal conflict with more radical elements in their society, even opposed to normalisation with Israel regardless of the West Bank question, with their interest in furthering their commitment to the Abraham accords. Accordingly, one can only speculate on their reactions to both the earlier opposition to sovereignty and the later more muted response to increased buildings within the Jewish settlement blocks. The case might well be that the Arabs are paying lip service to the PA. But what are they getting in return from the PA? The short and public answer conclusively shows that they are getting an aggressive response that includes attempts to even undermine the actual Arab regimes themselves.

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