Humanitarian aid and the two-state compromise spell another round of Palestinian subjugation

A boy carries a sack as workers of UNRWA package humanitarian aid in Jabalia, Gaza (Ali Jadallah - Anadolu Agency)

Ramona Wadi

Middle East Monitor  /  January 7, 2021

In what reads like a tentative attempt to bring the US back on track when it comes to international diplomacy, the US Foreign Affairs Committee representative, Gregory Meeks, has said that humanitarian aid for the Palestinians may be resumed in order to prioritise two-state politics. Clearly advocating for the two-state compromise which would, allegedly, provide “both parties with self-determination”, Meeks stated, “We may need to restart the US assistance to Palestinian people, demonstrating that the United States is ready to lead again.”

Humanitarian aid, therefore, is not to be given to the Palestinians out of the goodness of the donors’ heart, but rather as a weapon leveraged to assert power. Given that President-elect Joe Biden will not condition financial aid to Israel, the politicisation of humanitarian aid for the Palestinians is clearly intended to maintain the cycle of Israel’s human rights violations. The Palestinian people will gain some temporary relief and the Palestinian Authority will no doubt congratulate itself on adhering to the two-state compromise in return for humanitarian aid. With Donald Trump out of the White House, the PA will have no obvious target for its criticism, and nor will it need to resort to revolutionary rhetoric that it clearly doesn’t believe in.

If Trump exposed the hypocrisy of US diplomacy with regard to Palestine, the return to the two-state compromise will reveal the PA’s lack of a strategy, unless one counts collaborating with Israel and the international community against the Palestinian people as a strategic policy.

Wafa news agency has provided the PA’s context, which omits to mention that, “Trump provided unswerving support to the Israeli occupation,” hence the PA’s decision to sever relations with the US. However, it has not clarified why PA leader Mahmoud Abbas was so eager to resume security coordination with Israel when Biden was declared the winner of the US presidential election. Nor has the PA media explained why the leadership has not expressed any disagreement with Biden’s refusal to reverse Trump’s series of concessions to Israel.

For the PA, Palestine is synonymous with the two-state paradigm. If nothing interferes with this script, then Ramallah has nothing to worry about. With the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) also scripted into the two-state compromise by its donors, the international community and the PA have made it clear that the only relevant actors when it comes to Palestine are those that dictate from outside. Humanitarian aid and the two-state compromise have nurtured each other for decades, so why not continue the charade of Palestinian independence while ensuring Palestinians are deprived of autonomy through enforced dependence upon foreign financial assistance for basic needs? That, briefly, is the PA’s politics; in return this grants the leadership an obscure, almost irrelevant platform in the international arena which provides enough support to coerce civilians into the illusion of state-building, funded, once again, through humanitarian aid.

Bringing the US on board with the two-state compromise once again, as Meeks has hinted, should be a warning sign for the PA, as much as Trump’s “deal of the century” was. Yet so elated is the PA at the change of US president, that it is likely to give Biden a green light to trample over Palestinians further in return for humanitarian aid, even if this means the incoming president will champion two-state politics at the pace of colonisation which Trump is leaving as his legacy.

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