Middle East Monitor / February 9, 2021
At the rate that it is failing the people of Palestine, the Palestinian Authority will only stop jeopardising their cause when it is declared to be completely obsolete, more so than the two-state compromise. At this year’s first meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Palestine’s UN Permanent Observer Riyad Mansour put on a show of complicity that clearly illustrates how Palestine has been taken out of the hands of its people.
Guterres stated that the long-term goal is “to end Israel’s occupation and realise two States based on the pre-1967 borders”, which is an elaborate way of saying, “There is no plan B.” Strengthening the UN narrative, Mansour simplified the two-state concept further by declaring that “only the will is missing”. Such “will” is necessary to “hold Israel accountable for its violations and racist discriminatory policies in order to end practices that amount to apartheid.”
While Guterres and Mansour relied upon ambiguity to put forth a redundant message, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem made it clear in a position paper last month that the apartheid designation applies to all of the territories that Israel controls, the state “proper” and the occupied Palestinian territories, thus branding it as an apartheid state from its creation in 1948. Perhaps for the first time, a level of consistency with the Palestinian narrative has been achieved, albeit belatedly and still with no plan to hold Israel accountable.
Even here, though, the PA has failed to grasp the implications of such a declaration coming from an Israeli organisation. The only concept that fits PA politics is the two-state paradigm, even if this is a euphemism for yet more loss of land. And so, the only proposal which the PA puts forward is for an international peace conference, to make the “waiting” process appear productive on a diplomatic level, while Israel continues its expansion into Palestinian territory, knowing that the UN will do nothing but reiterate its opposition to settlement construction while overlooking Israel’s settler-colonialism.
Nothing has been done to address Israel’s colonisation plans, so the “will” is not the only thing missing to hold the occupation state to account. UN meetings like the CEIRPP’s are imbued with the importance that does not translate into anything meaningful, precisely because the international community prefers to hand over the dynamics of action to Israel. With no overlapping of roles, the UN can still play the guardian of human rights and speak of accountability, while maintaining its decades-old complicity in Palestine’s destruction. The PA, having no alternative because it will not involve the Palestinian people in political decision-making, plays along willingly, entrenching the apartheid system by refusing to regard Israeli violations as part of the colonisation process.
The CEIRPP was established in 1975, but the Palestinians are still no closer to exercising “their inalienable rights to self-determination without external interference.” Of course, the entire UN structure constitutes “external interference”, but the international community has ensured that such influence remains, through the funding of the PA and purported Palestinian state-building. If the PA does not find it necessary to object to Palestine being described as an international concern, perhaps the combination of its “will” and complicity might find answers closer to the colonised homeland and its leadership whose legitimacy expired twelve years ago.
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