Middle East Monitor / May 30, 2023
As Israeli colonial violence resulted in the forced displacement of the 200 residents of Ein Samiyah in Area C of the Occupied West Bank, the range of reactions, from silence to pathetic commentary, only increased impunity for the settler-colonial enterprise. A day after Al-Jazeera reported on the recent Palestinian displacement, EU diplomats issued yet another futile reproach urging Israel to stop settlement expansion, warning that “settlement expansion has resulted in increased settler violence”. Do Palestinians really need EU diplomats to point out what they have been experiencing daily for decades?
Ein Samiyah’s displaced residents have now moved to Al-Mughayyir and Al-Nuwaimah, still within reach of settler violence, and illustrating how Israel’s ongoing Nakba has been perfected by the state for normalization by the international community.
As expected, the Palestinian Authority excelled in nothing but complacency. Comments to Al-Jazeera by the PA’s presidency spokesman, Ibrahim Melhem, not only highlighted Ramallah’s complicit silence, but also the carefully crafted impunity which it enjoys as a result of its collaboration with Israel.
“The PA does not have the ability to prevent such crimes,” Melhem stated. “It is a victim of these crimes, since the international community does not implement the agreed-upon decisions in dealing with Israel.”
The statement is partly true – the international community relishes non-binding resolutions when it comes to Israel’s war crimes and international law violations. However, the PA is to blame for its blind endorsement of the two-state paradigm, which provided Israel with the opportunity to expand into Palestinian territory, just as the 1947 Partition Plan paved the way for the colonial enterprise to take shape.
When Israel creates refugees, the PA stays silent, not because it is a victim, but because it does not want to veer away from the role the international community and Israel intended it to play. The current term of forcibly displaced Palestinians conveniently detracts from the perpetual cycle of refugees which Israel created since the 1948 Nakba. Yet, for the PA to stop at forced displacement is a form of political violence which Palestinians should not be suffering from their illegitimate, expired leadership.
Even if the PA does not have the ability to prevent settlement expansion – its illegitimate rule adds to its restrictions already imposed by the international community – there is much it could do if Palestine and Palestinians were truly a political concern. The PA stands in the way of political change by refusing to hold democratic elections, by failing to give refugees the necessary political space, by detaining and torturing its opponents, by exploiting the cycle of refugees Israel creates for the sake of temporary rhetorical embellishment and meaningless international solidarity gestures.
“Our main goal is to pressure for their return to their lands, not to submit to moving,” Melhem declared of the Ein Samiyah residents. The question is, how? How can the PA call for return when it persists in ignoring Palestinian refugees? At some point, the collective Palestinian refugees, who have now become a nameless multitude, were also current concerns. How long before Ein Samiyah’s people suffer the same fate, and the PA lapses into the same silence about Palestinian refugees’ political rights?
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