The Arab League has been in hibernation for years, content only with routine and symbolic meetings or statements that did not make any difference. At present, however, it has emerged as an active, effective player in the region. In light of such an emerging role, shouldn’t it help the Palestinians who desperately need help?
The Arab Spring has brought with it not only a new role for the peoples of the region but also, it would seem, a new role for the Arab League.
In the Libyan context, it contributed visibly to paving the way for toppling of the regime. In Syria, it is also being not only assertive but also aggressive.
Since its establishment in 1945, the Arab League has undoubtedly had some sporadic impact on inter-Arab relations, as well as on Arab issues in the region and internationally. At present, it is having one of those moments.
Obviously, the Arab League is deriving some of its clout from American and European backing. The Arab Spring is benefiting Arab peoples in various countries, but it is also benefiting America and Europe.
NATO did not get actively involved in Libya just for the sake of protecting Libyan civilians. Europe and America had, and will have, much to gain from toppling the Qadhafi regime and others, both economically and politically.
The obvious question to ask here is: Since politics is based on mutual interest, and since Europe and America have gained and will gain a lot from the Libyan and other situations, should not the Arab League - while backing American and European interests in the region - back for some crucial Arab issues, such as the Palestinian question?
Change resulting from the Arab Spring is brought about not by America and Europe, but by the millions of Arab citizens who are revolting against dictatorial regimes. Neither America nor Europe did much in Egypt, Yemen or Tunisia. Aside from the Libyan situation, change was brought about by the people.
By actively reciprocating and responding to American and European calls for regime change in some Arab countries, the Arab League should expect America and Europe to actively reciprocate and support Arab causes.
Support is definitely needed for the Arab uprisings. But it is also equally needed for the Palestinian people at this point in time. It is direly needed not only because the Israeli oppression of Palestinians is much worse than that practised by some Arab dictators on their people, but because Israel is practicing ethnic cleansing in Palestine.
The situation in Palestine has never been more dangerous or worse than it is now. Israel is committing crimes against the Palestinian civilians and getting away with it, and through heightened illegal settlement activity and all sorts of demonic measures practised against Palestinians on a daily basis, it is swallowing Palestinian lands.
Israel is desperately attempting not only to make it impossible to have a Palestinian state, but to erase the Palestinian identity and existence.
This is why the Arab League is called upon to act in several concrete ways. One is to support the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN. The Arab League should pressure America and the countries involved to vote for the Palestinian state. At least it could help the Palestinians secure the nine votes they need at the Security Council.
Another is to come up with both a rescue fund to help Palestinians stay in Palestine and a rescue plan to prevent Israel from confiscating Palestinian lands or demolishing Palestinian houses. Yet another is to exercise more effort to bring the Israeli officials and generals who have Palestinian blood on their hands for trial in The Hague for war crimes.
It could also help in pressuring America and Europe to pressure Israel to halt all settlement activity and to start thinking of returning to Palestinians what is theirs from 1947 to the present.
By supporting the Arab Spring, the Arab League has somewhat redeemed its negative image and has made up for years of passivity and irrelevance. Some even view its role as gutsy and heroic. However, the Arab League will never redeem its image fully or be seen as a hero as long as the Palestinians are left in the lurch, at the mercy of the worst predator in human history: Zionist Israeli occupation.
The Arab League has a card in its hand and should use it to the benefit of Arab causes, at the core of which is the Palestinian cause. One does not expect miracles from it, but serious action and results in order not to continue to think of it as an irrelevant entity.
The writer is a columist and political commentator. This article first appeared in Jordan Times on Dec. 16, 2011