Middle East Monitor / December 23, 2022
The Palestinian Authority is reluctant to move away from the narrative which the international community constructed for Palestinians through the humanitarian paradigm which serves Israeli interests first and foremost. As Israeli state and settler violence against Palestinian civilians increased, with several instances of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians including minors, the PA’s Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called upon the UN to deploy its troops to monitor the streets. “The UN has more than 400 vehicles and more than 1,000 staff that can be trained as UN monitors to observe and document the actions of the army and settlers for the purpose of prosecution,” Shtayyeh reminded during a weekly cabinet meeting in Ramallah.
As is common for PA officials, their words speak only a sliver of the bigger picture. On one hand, Shtayyeh is missing out-communicating the historical and current manifestations of Israeli colonial violence. The current violence is not without precedents, hence why Palestinians speak of an ongoing Nakba instead of fragmenting Israeli state and settler violence into sporadic occasions as both the PA and the UN prefer. The latter makes it easier to protect Israeli impunity, especially since it is common knowledge, although relatively unspoken of, that Israel has continuously extended the boundaries of what the UN tolerates in terms of international law and human rights violations.
Shtayyeh has also failed to recognize the PA’s role in failing to protect Palestinian civilians. Since revolting against PA leader Mahmoud Abbas after the killing of activist Nizar Banat and calling off democratic elections, Palestinians have faced violence from the PA’s security services, as well as the Israeli state and settlers, in a way that guarantees the people absolutely no protection. While the PA may call out Israeli violence against Palestinian civilians as is their duty, it will not point towards the fact that security coordination extends Israeli state violence from the PA’s security services. Neither will the PA elaborate on the fact that it abhors the Palestinians’ legitimate anti-colonial resistance, therefore action taken by Israel against Palestinians even marginally involved in resistance, is no dilemma for Ramallah.
If one were to keep solely with the perfunctory role the UN plays in perpetuating Israeli colonialism in Palestine, Shtayyeh also knows full well that the UN regularly documents Israel’s colonial violence and fails to act to protect Palestinian lives. So what exactly does Shtayyeh want when he asks for the UN to step in as observers to document the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and settler violence against Palestinians? Why continue seeking validation through the UN – a willing accomplice in Israeli settler-colonialism – when the only action that can produce any tangible results is for the PA to turn inward, towards, not against, Palestinians? Non-binding resolutions to celebrate without implementing are the most the PA can expect from the UN. Constant groveling for protection has not benefited Palestinians in any way. The UN is not seeking additional proof, but ways to silence the Palestinians’ legitimate struggle. And it has no better accomplice than the PA in this regard.