Middle East Monitor / December 8, 2020
Thanks in part to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to restore relations with Israel, pressure is increasing on the leadership to resume negotiations with the occupation state “without preconditions”. During a virtual regional security meeting hosted by Bahrain, Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi described the normalisation agreements between the settler-colonial enterprise and Gulf States as an opportunity for the Palestinian people.
“The Abraham Accords do not come at the expense of the Palestinians,” claimed Ashkenazi. “Quite the opposite, they are an opportunity that should not be missed. I call on the Palestinians to change their minds and enter direct negotiations with us without preconditions.”
Ashkenazi’s statement pushes the Palestinian people into a position where there is no more room to manoeuvre. The “direct negotiations with us without preconditions” is a condition in itself. While Israel has always reiterated this diplomatic aggression, the international community’s refusal to take a stance against all the unilateral decisions enacted by US President Donald Trump on Israel’s behalf have made the crucial “final status” issues non-negotiable anyway. When presented with so many faits accomplis, how much “negotiation” can there be?
Within the context of normalisation, which swept the suspended annexation plans to the sidelines temporarily, the “no preconditions” condition will be bolstered by the fact that Abbas will not be able to assert his opposition – if he has any, which is unlikely – to the formalisation of Israel’s colonial expansion, let alone its presence as a settler-colonial project on occupied Palestinian land.
Trump and Israel have made one issue clear: Palestine exists only to disappear, and what remains will only be interpreted according to the degree of the PA’s capitulation to external demands. Abbas has been clear about the latter, particularly after US President-elect Joe Biden’s triumph at the polls. The rush to resume security coordination and normalise with Israel, after accusing Arab leaders of stabbing Palestine in the back for doing so, is ample proof that Abbas intended to maintain the fabricated international designation of Palestine, and to prevent the Palestinians from changing this political charade into a unified anti-colonial strategy.
Moreover, Abbas’s decision to refrain from holding Palestinian elections as promised will not be seen as regressive by the international community, whose support for such examples of democracy in action was most likely a façade tied to two-state politics and illusionary state-building which the EU, most notably, funds.
With Abbas acquiescing to additional compromise — the two-state paradigm is bolstered by US policies which Biden will refuse to overturn — the international community will merely change its focus from supporting the concept of Palestinian political unity, to making sure that the octogenarian Abbas is granted enough power to shackle Palestinians to permanent Israeli occupation and colonisation.
If Abbas agrees to negotiations without preconditions, he would do well to remember all the preconditions which Israel has already imposed on the Palestinian people. Ashkenazi’s statement is not a requirement, but an assertion of fact, bolstered by the knowledge that no diplomatic entity involved in the negotiations will contradict Israel’s expansionist agenda.
Many of Abbas’s political decisions bring shame upon the PA. This capitulation to the US simply because there is going to be a new man in the White House, without even knowing what changes, if any, Biden has in mind, is the greatest PA betrayal of the Palestinian people so far.
In all of this, there is one other thing for us to ponder: how much was Abbas truly opposed to Trump’s policies in favour of Israel, if his first action after the US election result was to announce a return to the status-quo in full acquiescence of normalising relations with the occupation state? He has a lot to answer for.
Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger; her writing covers a range of themes in relation to Palestine, Chile and Latin America