Middle East Monitor / November 23, 2021
Yet another attempt at managing symbolic gestures by the Palestinian Authority, this time by Prime Minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh. “Whoever cannot punish Israel can at least help Palestine,” he stated during a meeting at the Norwegian Parliament in Oslo, in the presence of members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence.
According to Shtayyeh, not holding Israel accountable for its colonial violence can be countered by recognizing an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, as well as the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
No mention was made of the fact that Israel impedes both from being implemented. Without accountability, Israel will not decolonize and it will not accept the Palestinians’ right to return to historic Palestine.
Shtayyeh should also be reminded that the PA itself has worked against decolonization and the right of return for Palestinian refugees. The two-state paradigm does not guarantee a Palestinian state. It affirms protection for Israel’s colonial project, which goes against the aspirations for Palestinian independence.
Additionally, the Palestinian right of return within the context of the two-state is symbolic and holds no political weight, reflecting the compromised UN Resolution 194 that requires Palestinians to live alongside the colonizers. If, as early as 1948, the UN did not intend the Palestinian people to return to a decolonized Palestine, what makes Shtayyeh believe that, decades later, symbolic recognition of a Palestinian state and the right of return will hold any political sway?
In fact, the more telling statement by Shtayyeh invokes protection of the two-state diplomacy. “The world must act to protect the two-state solution that Israel is systematically working to destroy,” Shtayyeh declared.
Israel has already destroyed the two-state possibility, and the international community was not averse to its demise. The PA knows that a two-state reality will not be implemented, as the international community intended all along.
However, this knowledge does not exonerate Shtayyeh from calling upon advocates of the two-state compromise to retain the middle ground and bolster Israel in the name of neutrality. Refusing to punish Israel and supporting Palestine is nothing short of a dangerous contradiction, which has been applied since 1948 and resulted in the current territorial loss, recently blamed on Naftali Bennett’s government, as if there was not a series of steps prior leading to the current de-facto annexation.
To put it succinctly, the international community is not helping Palestine by symbolic recognition. All it achieves by doing so is bolstering the PA’s diplomatic presence, which is also disposable to Israel and the international community. The PA’s relevance is tied to Israel’s colonial expansion and its role, dissociated as it is from Palestinians, does not necessarily augur permanence, particularly if Israel and its allies decide the two-state diplomacy is no longer required. At present, it serves as a veneer for possible negotiations, despite the fact that Israel is altering Palestine’s landscape very swiftly. The PA is not helping Palestine, hence Shtayyeh’s insistence that the international community keeps doing what it always has—support Israel and pay mere lip service to Palestine.
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