An Arab boycott of Palestine too
By : Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Palestinian citizens of Israel cannot enter Arab countries. This is how they are rewarded for holding on to their land and tolerating decades of Israeli oppression. It is prohibited to sell their products in Arab markets, while Jewish Israelis can visit Arab countries if they carry other passports.
Israel prohibits Palestinians in the occupied territories from leaving the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while most Arab governments prohibit them from entering their countries unless they carry Egyptian or Jordanian passports.
Most Arab governments prohibit their citizens from visiting Palestinians in the occupied territories to support their tourism or benefit from their services. A Saudi football team recently refused to play a football match in the West Bank because it is considered as dealing with Israel and recognizing the latter’s authority.
This strange and shocking treatment of Palestinians actually has legal justifications. Arab League decisions oblige member governments not to deal with Israel or with anything it controls. Over the course of 60 years, this has harmed the Palestinians and their cause, and completely failed to harm Israel or its occupation. It has harmed the Palestinians as much as Israel has harmed them, sometimes more so.
Arab decisions have impoverished and besieged the Palestinians in their occupied lands, and in refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, where they live on the little support provided to them by international organizations. Palestinian citizens of Israel have better living conditions, but the decades-old Arab boycott of them has isolated them.
The Arab League must be blind and deaf not to distinguish between the victim and the executioner, between the occupier and the occupied.
If I had not known who worked at the Arab League when all these decisions regarding Palestinians were taken, I would have thought it was run on the basis of a conspiracy by Tel Aviv. However, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
The League’s boycott has facilitated the occupation’s task of prohibiting dealing with Palestinians. More Jews than Arabs have visited Jerusalem and its mosques and churches, as Arab governments prohibit their citizens from visiting them.
Palestinians no longer have any hope in a political or military solution. Time and Arabs’ attitudes toward the Palestinian cause have proven that it is merely a soccer ball they play with to serve their own interests.
It is prohibited to buy from the Palestinians, to sell to them, to visit them, to host them, to pray in their mosques or to play football with them. The Arab League must be blind and deaf not to distinguish between the victim and the executioner, between the occupier and the occupied. It is time to reconsider the concept and policy on how to deal with Palestine and Israel.
This political absurdity established by naive Arab politicians – who half a century ago thought the Israelis would pack their bags and return to New York, Saint Petersburg and London – must end. Millions of Palestinians pay the price every day as they continue to be besieged by both Arabs and Israelis.
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.
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