Middle East Monitor / October 8, 2020
For decades since Israel established itself in Palestine, there has been no gradual relinquishing of slogans such as its “right to exist”. The Zionist colonial narrative, which is not only built upon the foundations of power imbalance, but also its preservation, maintains multiple possibilities to threaten and warn others, even as Israel continues to structure its impunity in such a way that the international community will not dare intervene.
UN Ambassador to Israel Gilad Erdan’s latest commentary, published in Israel Hayom last month, is a barely disguised threat against the UN, despite the latter’s role in creating the settler-colonial enterprise in Palestine. The underlying tone is clear: Israel seeks greater power at an international level, even if the UN’s consensus is clearly already pro-Israel and pro-colonial, to the detriment of the colonised Palestinian people. Erdan’s spin, however, is that this is irrelevant. Indeed, if the UN truly acted as Erdan would have us believe it does, the institution would actually have started to redeem itself in the eyes of its critics.
Should the UN continue “to obsessively preoccupy itself with the Palestinian issue,” Erdan wrote, “in 75 years it will no longer be able to celebrate its anniversary, because it will have lost its right to exist.” These are carefully chosen words that do not disguise the Israeli threat to the international community, while raising pertinent questions.
Which entity is really obsessed with “the Palestinian issue”, as Erdan calls it, and has built a narrative to promote the “right to exist” as an exclusively colonial right? Israel’s history is plagued with these questions because its foundations are built upon the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population; hence its existence is threatened not by the Palestinians, but by the politics it has entrenched to keep Palestinians away from their own land.
Adopting the Zionist security narrative is clearly not enough for Erdan, who has conveniently disregarded the UN’s overt blaming of Palestinians for Israeli aggression in Gaza and its praise for the Arab normalisation deals as a step forward in the diplomatic process. As the US “deal of the century” seeks to eliminate Palestinian political claims for the benefit of completing the Zionist settler-colonial project, Israel seeks to impose its politics as the norm; it’s one step further in the perfection of the settler-colonial state’s ability to act with total impunity.
In Erdan’s warped mindset, the UN’s right to exist now depends on whether it complies with Israeli demands. Adopting its security narrative at an international level is no longer enough; Israel’s latest tactic is to threaten the international organisation with irrelevance. While the UN is certainly not upholding its obligation with regard to observation of international law and human rights, the organisation is not irrelevant. On the contrary, it should be called out as Israel’s accomplice in denying Palestinians their legitimate political and human rights as a colonised people.
The US “deal of the century” is a step in the alteration of the political presence of Palestinians, and Israel needs an upgrade in oblivion from the international community when it comes to the violation of Palestinians’ rights. What the UN should rethink is its own complicity in creating a complex colonial structure that has not only determined Palestinians to be non-existent in order to colonise their land, but which also seeks ultimate sway over international politics, to the extent that Israel is now threatening the institution. It is Israel which is preoccupied with “the Palestinian issue”, which is why it needs the international community to enhance its political dissociation from the decades-long colonisation that was set in motion with the 1947 UN Partition Plan.
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