Middle East Monitor / September 17, 2020
In the aftermath of the Arab League’s failure to condemn normalisation of relations with Israel, Palestinian unity is once again on the agenda. Whether this is a reaction to the realisation that Palestinians have been abandoned, or a sincere effort to bring politics to the people remains to be seen.
However, the Palestinian Authority’s dominance is evident, and harmful to the prospects of the Palestinian people’s political rights and anti-colonial resistance. To act as if colonisation in Palestine is a recent intervention when it actually dates back to the late 1880s reeks of another opportunistic show of which the Palestinian factions, particularly those upholding resistance principles, should be aware.
A spokesperson for PA leader Mahmoud Abbas described the process going forward thus: “Having the courage to take serious positions at this critical stage that the Palestinian issue is going through marks the beginning of an important stage for thwarting the colonial intervention on the land of Palestine.” With this, Nabil Abu Rudeineh added to the ambiguity, or rather he confirmed that the PA will not budge from its compromised position. He also asserted the purported relevance of the two-state compromise which he described as a unified commitment between the Palestinian people and the leadership.
In truth, speaking about the two-state paradigm at this time only indicates that the PA remains beholden to impositions created by the international community and the Arab League. Both entities advocate for “two states”, while finding no contradiction of principles when it comes to normalising relations with Israel.
Other than timely advocacy for civilian protests against the normalisation agreements and the Arab League’s acceptance of such deals, the PA has yet to divulge any purported anti-colonial strategy. If it doesn’t change its politics, the unified approach towards normalisation will amount to nothing but a debacle of grovelling to external actors for reassurances regarding the two-state compromise which supports the expansion of Israeli colonialism in Palestine, and subsequent normalisation of relations with Israel.
Thwarting colonisation necessitates Palestinian political unity, but this must not centre upon the two-state imposition. A brief look at the international interventions in Palestinian history reveals the constant diluting of Palestinian political rights to safeguard Israel’s colonial project. In fact, its existence was normalised decades ago when the UN accepted the colonial enterprise as a member state (and it still does, even though Israel hasn’t fulfilled the requirement of membership by allowing Palestinian refugees to return to their land). The two-state compromise is the result of decades-long marginalisation of Palestinians at an international level, a symbolic recognition of the need to do something for the colonised but lacking any form of commitment towards whatever that “something” might be. Apart than coerce Palestinian politics into becoming humanitarian projects, that is, for which the two-state compromise caters, as does US President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century”.
The Arab League has refused to condemn normalisation of relations with Israel. However, it is incumbent upon the PA to do more than simply claim that it will “thwart colonial intervention” after years of diluting colonialism into military occupation, rendering the latter into an interchangeable term instead of a derivative.
Saving face is a tactic that the PA has applied as consistently as it has made concessions to Israel and the international community. However, there is too much to lose at this stage for the gimmick to strike any note of conviction with the Palestinian people. They know from first-hand experience that the PA has not thwarted colonialism at all; indeed, that its legacy will be that it has thwarted unified anti-colonial resistance.
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