By Žikica Milošević
Just when it seems that a problem or a couple of them are about to be solved, a new avalanche of conflict, destruction, mistrust and hatred erupts again in the Middle East. Paradoxically, all those people who advocate for conflicts share the same views, and the only ones who are against conflicts are people who had previously built bridges.
This brings us to an interesting question asked by many analysts from Israel to the Arab world, from Russia to America, from China to Europe – are parties in the war in collusion or just enjoying watching peace efforts collapse, people in the Middle East radicalizing, and becoming closer to their options?
But let’s start over yet again! There are two currents in Arabs and Muslims with one advocating reconciliation with Israel and leaving the Palestinians “in the lurch” with what they already have. It is a “punishment” for the previous behaviour of the Palestinians who refused to go with offered solutions, and got even worse ones as a result, but are also “tired” from endlessly dealing with the same thing for 70+ years. Many people in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and elsewhere think and have more in common with wealthy Israel than with their poor brothers in Palestine. They share the same way of life, similar-looking cities, are focused on tourism (the Saudis too), etc. Also, they are united in distrusting Iran which has been at odds with Israel since the Islamic Revolution. This “lack of love” has been reciprocated from the Israeli side, and the Sunni kingdoms in the region do not like the Shiite nature of Iran. However, there are many logical ambiguities here, because Azerbaijan, although Shiite, is in favour of Israel, and many Sunni countries like Iran.
In the latest shuffling of cards, four reconciliations “threatened” the peace in the Middle East. The first is the Abraham Agreement, where the UAE and Bahrain decided to recognize Israel and vice versa, which was followed by Morocco and then Sudan. It was rumoured that both Oman and Saudi Arabia would follow the principle. On the other hand, it seemed that there would be de-escalation in the proxy war in Yemen. Third, with the arrival of Joe Biden to the office, it seemed that much more effort would be made to bring Iran to the negotiating table and renew the nuclear agreement with this country, which was signed by Obama and torn apart by Trump. Fourth, with the election loss, Benjamin Netanyahu had to pass the baton for putting together a new government to Yair Lapid, who, as we like to proudly point out, originates from Novi Sad. He could create a government on a precedent, namely include parties of Israeli Arabs, and so that they can finally participate in the state government to which they pay taxes and whose documents they have. Fifth, it seemed that Hamas was left without funding from abroad and it would have to cede its negotiating position to the “good old” Fatah, from the West Bank.
And then Jerusalem was shaken by an attempt to evict Arab families from the Arab part of the city of Sheikh Jarrah to expand the Jewish settlement, followed by clashes between extreme members of both nationalities around the Al-Aqsa Mosque which spilt into the streets of Israeli cities, culminating in Israel being bombed from the Gaza strip and then retaliating against Gaza. Even the building that housed Al-Jazeera and some other media outlets was demolished, after Israel’s alert. When back in 1999, the building that housed Radio and Television of Serbia was bombed to the ground, NATO called it a “legitimate target”. Now we are waiting to see if Al-Jazeera’s offices were also considered a “legitimate target”.
So what happened? According to some, Hamas turned to Iran, even though Iran is a Shiite country, to the dismay of all haters of Iran. That is why many Gulf countries show indifference towards Gaza. Lapid is at a disadvantage because now his coalition with the Arabs is on shaky legs. Netanyahu is calling for new elections. Palestinians and Israelis like each other even less than a month ago. Observers got involved in everything. Kosovo supports Israel with Kosovars tweeting “May Allah save Israel!” which is absolutely inconceivable. Of course, as a consequence of the Washington Agreement from September 2020, Israeli flags were hoisted in Banja Luka and Palestinian flags in Sarajevo. Support on social media is heating up, people are arguing, and worldwide protests in favour of Palestinians are taking place, even in Belgrade. For the first time, Serbs in Serbia do not demonstrate openly their pro-Israel behaviour and now smile when they see the Palestinian flag. This is the consequence of the Washington treaty. Serbs in the Republic of Srpska act as if they would die for Israel. Bella Hadid has donated her dresses to the Palestinian cause (her father is originally from there).
Everyone is arguing, the reconciliation parties are despairing, Putin is calling both sides to come to Moscow for talks, Biden is caught between a rock and a hard place, political parties in favour of war are prevailing… When everyone gets radicalized, it will be easier for the more radical options to win the elections. Elections in Palestine have also been postponed. Again! Now, we will never know who would win and whose goal was for these elections not to be held. While people are dying…