By Ehsan Etesam

Agreements to bring peace, or agreements to sell more weapons?

May 8, 2021 - 16:55

TEHRAN- Brian Terrell, an Iowa-based peace activist who has spent more than six months in prison for protesting targeted assassinations at U.S. military drone bases, believes that peace accords between some Arab regimes and Israel not only has nothing to do with “peace” but also doesn’t improve the lives of people in Palestine or anywhere else in the region.

“These are agreements not to bring peace, but to sell more weapons to the states involved. They are arms deals, not peace agreements. These pacts are not efforts toward reconciliation and justice made by diplomats, but are more like criminal gangs dividing territory and spoils among themselves”, Terrel tells the Tehran Times.

Calling the regimes that are normalizing relations with Israel “dictatorships and monarchies”, Terrel notes, “The agreements that these rulers make do not reflect the aspirations of their people”.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Q: Today, more than 70 years after Israel's occupation of Palestine, the Islamic world has yet to take concrete steps to fight this occupation. What are the reasons for this, as well as the Islamic world's divergence toward Israel?
 
A: After the First World War and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States drew the maps of most of the Arabic nations for their own purposes, creating states without consideration of the welfare of people living in those territories and without their consent. After the Second World War and the creation of the state of Israel, the colonized states that surrounded it, created in the first place to serve the colonizers, were not capable of effective resistance. The United States came out of the war a major military and economic power and gave total support to the new state. With its veto power in the United National Security Council, the United States could block opposition from the world community, even after Israel occupied Gaza and the West Bank in 1967.
 

Q: We have seen in recent years that some Arab countries have been lenient against Israel. What is the reason for this closeness? The normalization of relations between certain Arab countries and Israel is regarded as a critical and dignified problem in the Islamic world today. What is the explanation for this normalization at a time when Israelis are putting the most pressure on Palestinians and violating their rights?
 
A: Brokered by the United States, relations between Israel and some Islamic states including Saudi Arabia have grown closer in recent years. In January 2020, in the last year of his administration, President Donald Trump unveiled a plan that he called "Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People" and that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called "the deal of the century.” In August that year, the United States made agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain called the “Abraham Accords Peace Agreements,” establishing diplomatic relations between those nations and Israel. These agreements have nothing to do with Abraham, nothing to do with peace, or with improving the lives of Palestinians or those of the people anywhere in the region. The lives of everyone in the region, the people of Israel included, will only be made less prosperous, less secure, by these developments.
 
These are agreements not to bring peace, but to sell more weapons to the states involved. They are arms deals, not peace agreements. These pacts are not efforts toward reconciliation and justice made by diplomats, but are more like criminal gangs dividing territory and spoils among themselves. As a side deal to the “Abraham Accords” for normalizing its relations with Israel, the United Arab Emirates was rewarded with $23 billion in weapons sales, including F-35 fighter jets and armed Reaper drones. Bahrain was richly rewarded as a part of that deal, too. These deals and the arming of Israel, Egypt, Qatar and other countries in the region benefit only their rulers and the international weapons manufacturers. When President Biden threatened to stop supporting the Saudi war on Yemen, Raytheon Technologies CEO Greg Hayes reassured investors: “Look,” he said, "peace is not going to break out in the Middle East anytime soon. I think it remains an area where we'll continue to see solid growth.”
 
Q: The normalization of relations between certain Arab rulers in the region and Israel, despite the absence of empathy in public opinion and Muslim communities. How can the rulers of the countries that follow this practice justify their public opinion?
 
A: The nations that are normalizing relations with Israel are dictatorships and monarchies that do not answer to public opinion or have to justify themselves to their people. The agreements that these rulers make do not reflect the aspirations of their people.
 
Q: What will be the long-term impact of normalizing relations with Israel on public opinion and their relationship with their rulers for the region?
 
A: Fortunately, even as these arms deals disguised as peace agreements fuel the tensions in the region, global public opinion is turning, even within Israel itself. Even before Human Rights Watch named the condition of Palestine “apartheid” and a crime against humanity, and before the International Criminal Court claimed jurisdiction over the occupied territories, the Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem also labeled Israel an “apartheid state.”

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