"The recent Arab League meeting [on September 9th] revealed a qualitative shift in the official Arab position [on Palestine]," remarks leading Palestinian commentator Hani al-Masri on the independent Palestinian news-portal www.masarat.ps.
The refusal to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the UAE's move [to normalize with Israel] and denying the Palestinian draft resolution demanding its denunciation clearly demonstrate that defection and deviation from the common Arab position's foundations does not apply to the UAE or Bahrain alone, but rather reflects the position of many Arab countries, making it a possibility that other countries will join them, as Trump and have Netanyahu advocated.
Why has the official Arab position deteriorated to such a degree? Is the decay in the Palestinian position responsible, as some argue? Or is it due to the absence of a unifying Arab project and a leading Arab country after the downfall of central Arab regimes one after the other, giving rise to the Saudi-dominated era, and small countries [i.e. the UAE] stepping up to play much bigger roles?
The official Palestinian position's deterioration began with preparations to enter a negotiated settlement in the run-up to the  Oslo Accords. It is mainly the result of Arab pressure on the Palestinian leadership, especially after the 1973 war, to board the sweeping settlement train before it leaves the station, urging it to replace the [refugees'] return and liberation program with a project to establish a Palestinian state on the territories occupied in 1967.
The June 1967's defeat is the root of the deviation and the foundational event that led to the series of collapses in the Arab position. Its disastrous consequences gave rise to the slogan calling to erase the traces of the war and agree to UNSC Resolution 242, which did not address the Palestinian cause. It ignored the root of the conflict, namely, the Israeli state's establishment at the Palestinian people's expense on 78% of Palestinian soil, circumventing UNGA partition Resolution 181, which provided for the Arab state's establishment on 44% of the Palestinian homeland's area, while granting the Jewish state 55%, and UNGA Resolution 194, which established the refugees' right to return and compensation. Arab pressure on the Palestinian leadership to accept UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338 continued and intensified, despite the fact that they do not address the Palestinian problem.
The regression in the Palestinian position did not begin with the acceptance of a national authority with jurisdiction over every inch of soil liberated in 1974, or with the adoption of a program in 1988 that focuses on the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. After all, a gradual and phased approach to achieving a goal has been witnessed throughout history wherever balance of power is the crux. Rather, the root of the deviation lies in the perception that this can only be done by abandoning the national project, submitting to negotiations, offering free concessions, and displaying good behavior, and believing it possible to reach a negotiated settlement with no means of pressure, which is the only way to make the greatest possible progress at each phase along the path to achieving all end goals.
Falling into the negotiated settlement trap in the mistaken belief that the Zionist movement (and its embodiment Israel) was prepared to accept a historic compromise regarding the Palestinian homeland's partition without a change in the balance of power, has led us down the path of offering continuous concessions to convince our enemies to accept a negotiated settlement.
This led to the Palestinian acceptance of UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338 as part of the peace initiative that the PNC (PLO Palestine National Council) approved in 1988 but without even correlating them with the basic national project or Israel, much less as to agreeing to other international resolutions, especially UNGA Resolutions 181 and 194. In other words, the liberation and return program was replaced with the state project. This led to the recognition of Israel's right to exist under the Oslo Accords with no reciprocal recognition of any Palestinian rights, including that to establish a Palestinian state, leaving this up for negotiation with Israel.
All this demonstrates that official Arab regression preceded official Palestinian regression, not that one justifies the other. Regression is wrong and condemnable, and Palestinian regression all the more so, because it is detrimental to Palestinian rights and interests at core. Signing the Oslo Accords was the peak of regression.
The progress of Arab deterioration can be traced from the official Arab support for the Palestinian liberation slogan and the push to establish the PLO [in 1964] based on the liberation and return program during the time of Nasser and Khartoum's 'three No's' [No negotiations, No peace, No recognition of Israel] in the 1967 war's aftermath, to raising the slogan of erasing the war's traces, to exploring collective Arab settlement via an international conference such as the  Geneva Conference, to Egypt's unilateral peace settlement [1978 Camp David Accords] and the attempt to give it cover by proposing the Palestinian autonomy plan, to the Oslo Accords and the [1994 Wadi Araba] Jordanian peace treaty, and finally to the  Arab Peace Initiative (API), which embodies a qualitative phase in the regression of the official Arab position, and the official Palestinian position's compliance with it despite the Arab concessions.
The API was introduced under the guise of seeking a balanced collective settlement, despite the fact that Israel was neither prepared nor on board with one, making it just another station on the path of concessions. It was also introduced to atone for the sin of the 19 Saudis [sic: 15 out of total of 19 perpetrators] who took part in 9/11. Saudi Arabia compelled the Arab League to prepare for full recognition and normalization with Israel in exchange for its withdrawal from the Arab territories occupied in 1967 and an agreement on a just, approved solution to the refugee issue, which entails leaving the refugees' fate in Israel's hands without offering anything in return. It was quite telling that the day after the PCI was approved, [then Israeli PM] Sharon mounted an attack on the PA, leading to the siege and assassination of Yasser Arafat, much like the 1982 aggression against the PLO in Lebanon that was launched less than a year after the Egyptian/Israeli peace treaty was signed.
To understand what has been going on over the past several years and since the Oslo Accords were signed, one needs to take stock of the sweeping developments from the [1980/88] Iran-Iraq war, to Iraq occupying Kuwait [in 1990] then getting occupied [in 2003], to the eruption of the so-called Arab Spring with the goal of creating a new Middle East, to the three [Israeli] military assaults on Gaza, to the occupation moving forward with Judaization, settlement, displacement, and annexation schemes in the West Bank, in addition to frequent attempts at Arab summits to amend or reverse the API such that normalization precedes withdrawal under the pretext that this could tempt Israel towards peace as a cover for the real reason, namely, a change in priorities and a desire to establish a U.S./Israeli/Arab alliance against Iran. Precisely the opposite occurred, and Israel opted for a more hardline approach.
The danger of the Emirati and Bahraini steps and their repercussions is that they not only reverse the peace initiative such that normalization and recognition took place preceding withdrawal, but rather that they are taken without any prospect of an Israeli withdrawal. This is clear from the fact that they made no mention of ending the occupation, stopping settlement, the refugee issue, or Israel's commitment to the Palestinian state. In fact, all that the Arab normalizers have achieved is the annexation's postponement, which had already happened for other reasons. Moreover, they took this step under the framework of Trump's vision [of a Palestinian/Israeli settlement], which is tantamount to a U.S. endorsement of the Israeli far-right's terms and dictates. In fact, short of preventing Israel from proceeding with annexation when the time is right, normalization and an Arab alliance make it easier for it to do so along the path to the establishment of 'Greater Israel'.
The fact that Palestinian Arabs made free concessions in the past, to the point of recognition and normalization, does not justify continuing down the same path and signing the Oslo Accords, leaving the door wide open for Arab normalization amid a persistent grasping at the straws of a negotiated settlement, although Israel killed it off a long time ago. It adopted the policy of managing the conflict instead of resolving it until the U.S./Israeli position changed in the Trump/Netanyahu era it switched to imposing Israel's solution after creating a fait accompli on the ground, leaving this as the only practical solution.
Netanyahu endlessly repeats the slogan of 'peace-for-peace' without ending the occupation to supplant the 'land-for- peace' formula, boasting that it has come to fruition with the Emirates and Bahrain, going as far as to confirm that the annexation plan is still on the table before the ink had dried on the U.S./Israeli/UAE tripartite agreement last month. In other words, normalization and recognition will sooner or later lead to the normalizers agreeing to the Israeli solution to the historic conflict.
Based on the preceding, they are in increasingly urgent need for Palestinian cover, since they realize that everything they have achieved will remain at risk without it. So they continue to use carrot-and-stick tactics to persuade the Palestinian people and their leadership to join the bandwagon or work towards finding a loophole with an Arab solution that excludes the Palestinians, and strive to replace the Palestinian leadership with figures prepared to surrender.
Responding to these attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause calls for strong Palestinian unity based on genuine partnership and a new vision and strategy that effects comprehensive change in our approaches, policies, tools, and figures. It is not enough to threaten to dissolve or dismantle the PA, or brandish popular unity and resistance. We must chart the path towards breaking free of the Oslo Accords' constraints, withdrawing recognition from Israel, changing the PA, rebuilding (not patching up) the PLO's institutions, and securing the foundations for sustainable, fruitful popular presence, steadfastness and resistance.
We must dispense with the strategy of survival, waiting, reactivity, and wagering on others and on Biden's victory or Netanyahu's downfall, and adopt a proactive strategy capable of acknowledging new developments and realities rather than dissociating from them with the aspiration to change them instead of submit to them.
In that vein, there is no need to withdraw from the Arab League, since that would only exacerbate Palestine's isolation and make it easier for the League as a whole and its member states individually to proceed more rapidly down this path. Rather, we need to raise the slogan of taking back hijacked Arab League, which was established for Palestine's sake and must return to its embrace.
Some confused souls argue that the Arabs betrayed the Palestinian cause in 1948, precipitating the Nakba, and that they continue to betray it to this day. But this is not true; the 1948 betrayal brought about the  Egyptian revolution and the subsequent change in Arab conditions that necessitated mounting the 1967 aggression and led to the June defeat. This triggered the second, greater Palestinian revolution, in rebellion against this defeat, until it was slowly contained over time after the 1973 war.
There is hope. We still have much we can bank on; first and foremost, the Palestinian people, their willingness to remain steadfast and continue the struggle in their homeland and across the diaspora, and second, the crises and polarities within Israel wrought by its growing extremism, expansionism, aggression, racism and its unwillingness to compromise. It is all or nothing.
This will turn the Palestinians and the world against it-- even if it takes a while-- and make the lives of the normalizers and its new allies more difficult. After all, its track record demonstrates that Israel takes but does not give, dominates but does not share. It will not fight on the Arabs behalf. Indeed, it has thrust its Arab allies into the belly of the whale and will abandon them, because an Israeli presence on Iran's doorstep in the UAE, Bahrain, and elsewhere will make the Gulf states liable to pay a heavy price in any upcoming political, military, or economic conflict.
Israel is not the only powerful country in the region; it has strong rivals in Iran and Turkey, not to mention China, Russia, Europe, India, and Japan, the Sino-American Cold War, and the coronavirus pandemic with its political and economic repercussions on the entire world order.
"The region and the world are in flux, and we must remain steadfast and make the change needed to take our proper place on the new world map," concludes Masri.