While unofficial talks between the UAE and Israel have been an open secret for quite some time, the normalization of their relations last August, with Bahrain following suite in September and Sudan in October is paving an unprecedented reality for the Palestinians. The latter harshly condemned the normalizations as a break away from the Arab Peace Initiative—endorsed in 2002, re-affirmed in 2007 and 2017—which conditioned Arab states’ normalization with Israel by establishing a Palestinian state and ending the occupation. This may shed light on why the Emiratis attempted to justify the normalization as a diplomatic effort to halt the Israeli annexation of the West Bank. As neither Israeli nor US officials have bothered to substantiate it, UAE’s justification fell short of convincing the Palestinians. In practice, a suspension of the annexation means little—if nothing at all—when it is not accompanied by a genuine halt of the illegal Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank. Be that as it may, the establishment of formal relations between Arab countries and Israel may be the last straw that breaks the camel's back for the Palestinians.
In response to the normalization announcements, two Palestinian leadership meetings took place to push forward with a unified national agenda. On September 3, all local heads of the Palestinian factions in Ramallah held a teleconference with their counterparts located in Beirut. Three committees were established to formulate proposals on a unified national strategy for peaceful popular resistance, reforms on the PLO, and reconciliation between Hamas and Fateh. On September 22, the second meeting took place between Hamas and Fatah delegations in Ankara. The two delegations agreed to proceed with reconciliation by holding three separate elections within the next six months; for the Palestine Legislative Council, the PA’s Presidency, and the Palestine National Council. Although the moves could be considered as a breakthrough, they are neither unprecedented nor surprising. Reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah has been unsuccessfully attempted in 2007, 2011, 2012, and 2014. However, the determination level of both sides may be different now for various reasons.
Hamas, facing severe pressure by the suffocating situation in Gaza, seemingly focuses on dealing with the humanitarian crisis rather than the resistance. The latest Qatari-brokered ceasefire with Israel in the aftermath of the normalization deals and the demand for a larger cash injection from Doha are testaments to that. Being on bad terms with Fatah and the PLO, internationally branded as a terrorist organization, and totally dependent on a few, albeit steadfast, foreign backers (i.e., Qatar, Iran, Turkey), Hamas has little space for maneuvers. Therefore, apart from essentially restoring its participation in the Palestinian Authority (PA), a successful reconciliation with Fatah could enhance its international legitimacy and unlock access to more international humanitarian assistance for Gaza. After all, Hamas’ recalibration is evident since 2017 and the presentation of its new political document. Since then, the organization accepts the formation of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, downplays its affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, and affirms that its struggle is not religiously motivated against the Jews.
Fatah is equally under severe pressure. Standoffs with Israel on clearance revenues, as well as a sharp decline in the aid coming from the Arab states  The economic predicament, coupled with the failure to attract the necessary international support, is reflected in the PA’s and President Abbas’ low approval rates. It is highly likely that more Arab countries will follow the normalization path if exposed to heavy US pressure. The fear of Morocco, Kuwait, and Oman changing course,have crippled the West Bank’s economy to the point of near collapse. The PA’s retreat from all agreements with Israel following the release of the West Bank annexation plans, and the recession caused by the corona-crisis have also taken an enormous toll on a Palestinian economy.
In a nutshell, the normalization between Israel and a number of key Arab states has reminded the Palestinians that unity is an urgent matter. Still, official statements guarantee neither reconciliation nor unity. Yet, given the current critical juncture for both Gaza and Ramallah, the conditions are ironically there. In any case, even if elections do happen and the Palestinians decide on a unified strategy to revive the Palestinian Question, the role of the international factor will remain catalytic. Countries with vested interests on the Palestinian issue can very well influence its trajectory. Given Fateh’s and Hamas’ overwhelming external dependency, they both need to balance between their international backers while tempering their own expectations. Notwithstanding, one thing is certain; if today's dynamics remain unchanged, with Trump and Netanyahu on the one side and the rest of the region prioritizing their own affairs on the other, the Palestinian Question may become even more marginalized on an international level amidst the on-going occupation.
All links accessed on 25/10/2020.
 Ishaam Tharoor, “The Arab tide turns against the Palestinians,” The Washington Post, September 14, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/09/14/arab-tide-turns-against-palestinians/
 Yoel Guzanski, Ari Heistein, “The benefits and challenges of UAE-Israel normalization,” Middle East Institute, September 16, 2020, https://www.mei.edu/publications/benefits-and-challenges-uae-israel-normalization see also Nidal Al Mughrabi, Dan Williams, “Stop or suspend West Bank annexation? Devil in the detail for Israel-UAE deal,” Reuters, September 2, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-emirates-usa-communique-idUSKBN25T2FE
 Daoud Kuttab, “Palestinian leaders grasp for unity in Ramallah-Beirut meeting,” Al-Monitor, September 4, 2020, https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/09/palestine-leaders-meeting-ramallah-abbas-factions-uae-israel.html
 Daoud Kuttab, “How Palestinians agreed on elections,” Middle East Institute, October 1, 2020, https://www.mei.edu/publications/how-palestinians-agreed-elections see also Al-Monitor, “Hamas, Fatah agree to hold Palestinian elections within six months”, September 24, 2020, https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/09/fatah-hamas-elections-palestinian-rivals-israel-deals-trump.html#ixzz6ahd8lQtP
 Mohammad Makram Balawi, “Why Hamas wants Palestinian elections to be held,” Middle East Monitor, January 7, 2020, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200107-why-hamas-wants-palestinian-elections-to-be-held/ see also Adnan Abu Amer, “Qatar brokers Israel-Hamas cease-fire,” Al-Monitor, September 6, 2020, https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/09/gaza-hamas-israel-truce-qatar-siege.html
 Hamas.ps, “A Document of General Principles and Policies,” May 1, 2017, https://hamas.ps/en/post/678/a-document-of-general-principles-and-policies
 Mohammed Samhouri, “Decoding the Current Palestinian Financial Crisis,” Malcom H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center, May 2, 2019, https://carnegieendowment.org/sada/79050 see also The New Arab, “Palestinians note recent sharp drop in Arab state funding. Could normalisation be the cause?,” September 23, 2020, https://bit.ly/2TmiWeC
 Ali Adam, “How the Arab League failed Palestine,” The New Arab, October 8, 2020, https://english.alaraby.co.uk/english/indepth/2020/10/8/how-the-arab-league-failed-palestine see also Middle East Monitor, “80% of Palestinians believe Arab states abandoned them,” July 5, 2019, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190705-80-of-palestinians-believe-arab-states-abandoned-them/
 Muhammad Shehada, “Inside Saudi Arabia’s Campaign to Cancel the Palestinians,” Haaretz, October 14, 2020, https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/.premium-saudi-arabia-s-campaign-to-cancel-the-palestinians-1.9227284 see also Ahmad Abu Amer, “Egyptian media campaign targets Hamas,” Al-Monitor, September 24, 2020, https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/09/egypt-media-attack-hamas-gaza-relations-qatar-turkey.html
 Mohammad Ayesh, “Four Arab countries obstructing Palestinian reconciliation,” Netherlands Palestina Komitee, October 5, 2020, https://palestina-komitee.nl/four-arab-countries-obstructing-palestinian-reconciliation/ see also Muhammad Shehada, op.cit.