National coalition to protest normalization with Israel during deal signing at White House

Activists say normalization deals with Israel which are not about peace but about furthering Israel’s systems of occupation and apartheid.

Washington, D.C. — On Tuesday, September 15, Donald Trump will host a ceremonial signing of deals to normalize relations between Israel and the UAE and Israel and Bahrain. Activists will gather to protest these deals which are not about peace but about furthering Israel’s systems of occupation and apartheid. The protest will be led by a coalition of over 50 Palestinian rights organizations and groups, many of which are led by Palestinian Americans and Arab Americans.

The U.S.-brokered deal which will be signed at the White House by Prime  Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan is an underhanded way to maintain Israel’s status quo of land theft and apartheid and should be seen in the context of over three years of Trump administration policies that have supported Israel’s war on the Palestinians: moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing the illegally occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory, and creating a so-called peace plan with no Palestinian participation or input. Supposedly, the UAE-Israel normalization deal, which is part of the Trump administration’s fake peace plan, would benefit Palestinians by halting de jure annexation of the West Bank, but not only is de facto annexation a daily reality for Palestinians, but Netanyahu, in his Israeli press conference announcing the deal, said that de jure annexation was “still on the table” and that it was something he is “committed to.”

Within a week of the deal’s announcement, a secret clause within the deal to sell tens of billions of dollars in weapons to the UAE was revealed. On September 11, 2020, it was announced that Bahrain—another repressive Gulf country involved in the brutal war in Yemen—will also sign a deal to normalize relations with Israel, also without any concessions for Palestinians. It is understood that Bahrain would not be able to make such an agreement without the tacit approval of Saudi Arabia, the leader of the war in Yemen. 

The normalization of relations between the UAE and Bahrain and Israel, facilitated by the U.S., serves to prop up repressive leaders — US President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, UAE King Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (MBZ), Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman al-Khalifa — guilty of gross human rights abuses and war crimes.

National Coalition* Demands

No Normalization with Occupation and Colonization 

On Tuesday September 15th, 2020, the United States will host a ceremony to consummate the normalization agreements between the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Israel. Absent from this debacle of White House theatrics will be any Palestinians to represent the indigenous people of the land upon which Israel has created and violently maintains its colonial state. Euphemistically coined the “Abraham Accord,” the details of the plan unveil little more than a calculated semantics ploy to represent the anti-colonial struggle of the indigenous Palestinians as a religious and fratricidal fight between “the children of Abraham.”

In international arenas this farce has been touted as a “peace initiative,” even though the countries were not previously in conflict with one another. In Arab countries, there are official campaigns aiming to sell the agreements to the public as an advancement for Palestinians, in complete disregard of the position and agency of the Palestinian people. While governments and corporations talk of business opportunity, tourism, and energy deals, the sidelined Palestinians continue to exist in apartheid conditions, under brutal Israeli military occupation where home demolitions, night raids, arbitrary arrests, and unspeakable harassment, humiliation and violence against them are daily realities.

This month the UAE welcomed to its capital, Bank Hapoalim and Bank Leumi–two of nine Israeli banks listed by the United Nations Human Rights Council as financiers of illegal settlements–making the UAE now complicit in Israel’s ongoing theft, colonization, and annexation of Palestinian land. Rather than benefit Palestinians, these deals put an Arab seal of approval on what is one of the world’s worst, most enduring and well-documented records of human rights abuses and grave breaches of international law. In doing so, they reward lawlessness, theft and impunity, in addition to violating all relevant resolutions of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Far from advancing peace, the plan reveals arms deals and cyber-spying contracts that promote militarism, endanger civilians, threaten human rights activists, and delay the potential for true peace in the region–peace based on ideals of justice and universal human dignity.

While we condemn the actions of the UAE and Bahrain governments, we know that the Arab people of the UAE and Bahrain remain firm in their support for Palestine. Likewise, while we condemn the long role of the US government in pushing normalization while underwriting Israel’s violent occupation and settler-colonial project, we know that our fellow Americans want the US government to promote justice. The American people want their tax dollars spent on our crumbling education system, compromised infrastructure, and healthcare, not to prop up human rights abusers nor to fatten the bank accounts of weapons contractors.

As a coalition of over 50 US-based religious, political, cultural and human rights organizations, representing tens of thousands of Americans, we stand firmly with the Palestinian people in their fight for freedom, self-determination and demand that Israel be held accountable. We stand united in our rejection of any and all efforts to normalize with Israel at the expense of Palestine and the Palestinian people. We declare that Palestinian self-determination and human rights are non-negotiable and not for sale; and finally and most importantly we demand an end to Zionist Colonization of Arab/Palestinian land.

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