Hundreds of Palestinians across the occupied territories came out on the streets on Tuesday, September 15, to register their disapproval and anger against the announcement of “normalisation” of ties with Israel by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Protesters gathered in large numbers in major cities such as Ramallah, Nablus and Hebron in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, displaying Palestinians flags and banners with slogans saying “no to normalisation with occupier.” Some banners termed the agreements signed by Bahrain and the UAE as “the agreements of shame” and “treason”.
In Ramallah, where the central protest was organised, protesters came out in large numbers despite rising cases of COVID-19 in the occupied territories. On September 15, more than 1,118 new infections were recorded in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, taking the total number of infections in these two territories to over 40,000 with over 250 deaths. Undeterred, protesters expressed their resolve to fight against the Israeli occupation and for the rights of the Palestinians.
More than 50 organisations had also given a joint call for demonstrations against the deals in US capital Washington D.C., outside the White House, at the same time as the leaders of the UAE, Bahrain, US and Israel were signing the deal.
The ‘normalisation’ deals, widely seen as an election gimmick by US president Donald Trump, have exposed the divisions among the Arab countries on the issue of Palestine. Egypt and Jordan were the only two Arab countries which recognised Israel before the UAE announced normalisation of its relations with Israel in August. Bahrain has become the latest country to sign this US-mediated deal.
Most other Arab countries have expressed their adherence to the Arab Peace Initiative, a doctrine adopted by the Arab League in 2002. According to the Arab Peace Initiative, no member of the league would recognise Israel until the Palestine issue is resolved. The US has attempted to persuade more countries to normalise their relations with Israel, however, so far only Bahrain has announced its decision to do so. Palestinians have termed such deals a betrayal of the Palestinian cause and a violation of the Arab Peace Initiative.
This article was first published in Peoples Dispatch.