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A Palestinian success no missiles can achieve
Hamas declares imaginary ‘victory,’ Arabs in Israeli coalition promise results
From his luxurious vacation in Doha, where he spent $26,000 on his message sessions, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyyah delivered a speech in which he claimed victory in the Gaza War. While Gazans were still picking up their pieces, searching for bodies under the debris, Haniyyah loudly announced that the “Gaza Victory” put an end to Arab normalization with Israel. A week later, Arab-Israeli MK Mansour Abbas inked a deal that saw his four-member bloc join a new ruling Israeli coalition that trounced longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
While Haniyyah depicted Hamas as having made history, it was MK Abbas who made actual history, leading the first Arab bloc to enter a ruling Israeli coalition. And while Haniyyah’s victory can hardly be measured, since misery of Gazan Palestinians before the “victory” will continue after it, it is Abbas’s bold “normalization” move with Israel that will deliver results for Arab-Israeli Palestinians.
In return for joining a coalition of Zionist parties form the Left, the Right and the Center, Abbas’s bloc was promised the position of Deputy Minister of the Interior, which will give Abbas the ability to improve policing in predominantly Arab districts, which generally suffer high crime rates. The post will also allow Arabs to empower their municipal councils, which can in turn improve infrastructure and services in Arab towns. If all goes well, in the coming few years, Arab-Israelis will see the fruit of their “normalization:” Crime rates will go down, infrastructure and services will improve.
Talking to Israeli TV Kan 11, MK Abbas said “we did not get all what we wanted, but we got many things that we wanted.” This statement shows a developed understanding of politics, one that is desperately needed among Arab-Israelis, and Arabs at large. Public life is never a zero-sum game, but the art of the possible and compromise.
Abbas’s move also suggests that he, and his voters, understand the link between their political position and their interests. Abbas and his voters are pragmatic. They talk less about identity, honor, and creating a Palestine from the river to the sea, and more about policies that can improve their lives. Abbas and his partisans leave poetry to Hamas and its imaginary victories, and keep for themselves reality.
Abbas is not the only Arab to have realized that politics is about interests, not emotions. With its peace and normalization Abraham Accord with Israel, the UAE has also shown an understanding of the relationship between cause and effect, between policy and the standard of living. Sworn animosity toward Israel and the perpetual state of war might make some Arabs feel good, but feelings aside, boycotts and wars have delivered nothing to the Arabs in the past, and are unlikely to deliver now or in the future.
In fact pragmatism has already delivered $354 in bilateral trade between the UAE and Israel, and promises cooperation on a vast spectrum of issues, from science and education to finance and banking.
In the world, it is normal to praise those who seek peace. In the Arab world, peace supporters are shunned as sellouts. For some reason, the Arabs seem to prefer animosity and stalemate over peace and potential growth.
The more Arabs endorse peace and normalization with Israel — like Arab-Israeli Mansour Abbas and the UAE have done — the faster Arab misery will come to its end.