Palestine: Lakhdar Brahimi’s Open Letter to Arab Friends to Counter Trump and Netanyahu

The former Algerian minister of foreign affairs, Lakhdar Brahimi, cannot resolve to see the Palestinian cause abandoned in the face of the consequences of the “deal of the century”.

Various individuals of the Arab world have joined forces to soon file a petition with several international organizations such as the United Nations, World Trade Organization, Arab League, African Union, European Union among others. The objective: affirm their opposition to the American peace plan from January 2020, known as the “deal of the century,” which is supposed to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Jeune Afrique reprinted the following message that Lakhdar Brahimi, the former UN mediator, took the initiative to address to these figures in the Arab world in order to mobilize them.

I am addressing this letter to Arab friends — former government leaders, officials, intellectuals and activists — whose addresses I’ve managed to compile. But, as will appear below, my ambition is to reach an even wider audience, in the Arab world and beyond.

I pay no attention to political affiliations whatsoever. I believe that what the Israelis and the American administration are doing must lead us to set aside our internal divisions and the divisions between states. This letter will also reach people that I have not had the privilege of meeting in person. Their names are known to me from their writings, or they have been suggested to me by mutual friends.

Israel’s brutal, systemic and continuous dispossession of the Palestinian people has come to a head with the so-called “deal of the century.” For decades, Israel has benefited from the unlimited support of the United States in particular and from major European governments in general. This support has now crossed the last line: the Israeli Prime Minister decides, and the American administration executes.

“Deal of the Century?”

To what extent did the U.S. administration truly contribute to the drafting of this agreement of the century? Netanyahu has publically bragged about appointing an all-Israeli team that assiduously worked to ensure the text was published unaltered.

According to the Israelis, the only American to have participated at all in the substantive discussions was David M. Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel. We all know that this man is, has been and will remain a staunch proponent and financial backer of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The purpose of this letter is not to debate the reactions of Arab governments, let alone provide them with recommendations. My goal is to see if we can act together as individuals. And I believe we can.

The Israelis have never deigned to pay any attention to the Arab Peace Plan — not a single serious comment has been offered, as far as I know. They had their own plan, long before the Balfour Declaration in 1917: they created their state and steadfastly pursued the progressive implementation of their great project.

The Powerlessness of the Palestinian Leadership

I believe that at some point, very early on, Israeli leaders were surprised to find that they would even be able to take over all of Palestine. They have made giant strides in that direction. In the past two years, they have taken the two most important steps: the Jewish nation-state law and the annexation of Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and, at any time now, 30 percent of the West Bank.

The Palestinians are far too weak to challenge the Israeli intrigues. They are doing what they can, and I believe they will do more. Arab governments are just as weak and would be just as ineffective if they were willing to do something. It is not my intention here to raise the debate of the Palestinian leadership’s lack of unity, or that of the now near-total absence of cooperation between Arab governments. The League of Arab States cannot take a stronger position than that which its members collectively allows it to take.

Retired Arab officials and intellectuals would obviously be even more powerless to take any action on their own. But they can speak up and speak out. And if they do, they will be heard. They know full well that their views would be shared by the vast majority of Arabs in their own countries and elsewhere in the world.

I suggest a statement that simply acknowledges the powerlessness of Palestinian leadership and of the Arab governments in the face of machinations by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Trump’s administration, but that would also solemnly claim that we, as individuals and as a group, consider these actions — already condemned by the United Nations and by virtually every one of its member states — illegal and illegitimate.

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions

The American-Israeli actions indeed are, and must remain, null and void. We strongly support their rejection by the Palestinian leaders and the Palestinian people of the Occupied Territories of Jerusalem, Gaza, Israel and the diaspora. We also support the right of the Palestinian people to fight against this unbearable injustice with all the means at their disposal. In particular, we support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and call on the whole world to take an active part in it, just like with the boycott movement against apartheid in South Africa, the success of which we are well aware.

Let me stress this: this is a strictly personal initiative. I am convinced that we all share the same feelings of anger and helplessness and that we all see that what the Palestinian people are subjected to is unjust, totally unacceptable, and just as humiliating to them as it is to us.

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