Middle East Monitor / January 19, 2021
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is “deeply concerned” about Israel’s ongoing settlement expansion, the Palestinian Authority’s official media, Wafa news agency, has reported. Another 800 settlement units will endanger two-state politics, but will do nothing to endanger the UN’s stranglehold over Palestine. If settlements endanger the two-state framework, there is always the collateral damage that arises from such human rights violations – forced displacement – and exploiting the humanitarian paradigm is where the UN excels.
At the other end of the spectrum, and with annexation still looming over the Palestinian people in the occupied West Bank, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh is merely “hoping” that US President-elect Joe Biden will exert pressure to stop Israel’s “unprecedented settlement onslaught”. It is highly unlikely, especially if the PA does nothing but “hope”, which of course suits the US and Israel just fine. In 2020, Israel approved the construction of 12,000 settlement units. The interlude in Israel’s annexation plans, brought about by the Abraham Accords, will likely accelerate settlement construction.
PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh also failed to spare a thought for his own people when he merely described Israel’s latest move as “an attempt by the Israeli government to undermine any effort that US President Elect Joe Biden’s administration might make to relaunch the stalled peace process.” Never mind that Biden has not yet outlined any policy with regard to Palestine, and the main assertion so far is that there is no intention of reversing most of outgoing President Donald Trump’s concessions to Israel. Which means that the two-state compromise, defended so staunchly by the PA for the international community’s benefit, must now be considered within the context of Trump’s legacy, particularly the normalisation agreements to which Biden, like the rest of the international community, is unlikely to be averse.
Clearly the PA is still playing the “best option” card when comparing Trump with Biden. Meanwhile, it still refuses to acknowledge the precedents which led Palestine to this deterioration, including the PA’s own concessions to Israel in the pre-Trump years relating to the loss of territory, Jerusalem and the Palestinian refugees’ legitimate right of return.
During Trump’s term in office the PA went a step further in its betrayal by exploiting the Palestinian resistance for its own traitorous brand of politics. This was exposed by its eagerness to resume the “sacred” security coordination with Israel within a political vacuum that can only be manipulated to Israel’s advantage.
By the PA’s own admission through its official media, it has nothing to propose other than the usual wait and see approach. This is tried and tested, resulting in the international community forcing Palestinians to contend with further territorial loss, while Abbas proposes useless peace conferences where he can bleat about his willingness to be strung along for the sake of the two-state compromise.
The truth is that the PA has normalised Israel and its settlement expansion, in line with the international agenda that protects the settler-colonial state at all costs. How can Shtayyeh “hope” that Biden halts settlement expansion when the PA itself supports an agenda – two-state politics – that seeks to protect Israeli colonisation while hypothetically granting Palestinians a fragmented state that will remain completely under Israel’s security control?
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