How the Arab League helped dissolve the Palestinian question


Seventy-five years since its founding, the league has been transformed beyond recognition in most aspects, except in its major role of serving imperial interests

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit

Joseph Massad writes in Middle East Eye:

As one Gulf state after another embraces formal ties with Israel, some have looked to the Arab League to condemn normalisation. Yet to understand why the league will do nothing of the sort, one has to go back to its founding.

The League of Arab States was founded in 1945 at the instigation and planning of Britain to protect British imperial interests.

The British made sure that the Palestine question was subcontracted to the independent Arab states to absolve itself of responsibility for what it had wrought in the country. Seventy-five years later, the league has been transformed beyond recognition in most aspects, except in its major role of serving imperial interests.

Following the Palestinian Revolt of 1936-1939, during which the British killed 5000 Palestinians and executed and exiled Palestinian leaders, hostility to Britain was increasing across the Arab East. This manifested more clearly in the April 1941 coup by Rashid Ali Al-Gaylani in Iraq, which the British successfully put down a month later.

In June and July 1941, the British invaded Syria and Lebanon to end the rule of Vichy-France there, which had sent military assistance to Rashid Ali in the spring. The defeat of the Vichy-French forced the exiled De Gaulle to grant independence to Syria and Lebanon in 1943. This ensured that Greater Syria, Iraq, Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula fell under full British imperial control even before the war’s end.

However, the realisation that the calamity they had visited on the Palestinians by sponsoring the Zionist colonial-settler project would haunt the British for the foreseeable future, coupled with the increase in popular anti-British sentiment across the region drove London to consider how to ensure continued British imperial hegemony after the war: the project of supporting some form of Arab “unity”.

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