Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki keeps generating contradictions in his diplomatic endeavours. The concept of “waiting” is one of Al-Maliki’s favourite terms to resort to, reminding diplomats of how Palestinians have been forced to wait by the international community but failing to address how the PA endorses waiting in its own politics through the two-state compromise.
During a recent meeting in Riyadh with his Saudi Arabian counterpart Prince Faisal Bin Farhan Bin Abdulla, Al-Maliki mentioned “the need to put an immediate end to the intolerable impunity of Israel, as an occupying power.” There should be no doubt that the international community applauds him for learning his lines so well in terms of actually protecting Israel’s impunity.
1967 Occupation, Naksa – Cartoon [Sarwar Ahmed/MiddleEastMonitor]
Israel’s military occupation of Palestine commenced, we are told, in June 1967. But what about Israel before 1967? What about the Zionist colonial project created in 1948 on occupied Palestinian land that sustains Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip? Al-Maliki, like the PA and the international community, prefer to ignore the entire colonial enterprise — and in doing so condone Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population — and focus on just one manifestation of it, rather than addressing the root cause of the problem: the creation of the state of Israel on Palestinian land. So, does the minister want the international community to partially remove Israel’s impunity only in terms of its military occupation of the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip? Does this mean that the PA is not concerned about the roots of Zionist settler-colonialism in Palestine?
The colonisation of Palestine by Zionist Israel is not articulated properly. By admitting Israel as a member state, the UN contributed to the ensuing misrepresentation by its own erasure of Israel’s settler-colonial structure. This has become an ongoing feature of almost all discourse on Palestine, and one of the main reasons why “conflict” rhetoric is preferred over calling out Zionist settler-colonialism. Israel’s normalisation is not a recent phenomenon.
Furthermore, in the haste to erase the 1948 Nakba from international consciousness, 1967 has become the reference point for the beginning of the Israel occupation. The UN normalised Israel’s colonial presence in Palestine, but pretended to take issue with its military occupation. Hence, the distance maintained between colonialism and military occupation, rather than the latter being a derivative of the former, has created a new discourse on Palestine, and one that is rarely challenged, let alone debated. Palestine’s erasure is happening through the normalisation of settler-colonialism by pointing fingers only at Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. It is already dangerous that the UN is participating and actively promoting this discrepancy. That the PA also endorses this discourse is a betrayal of Palestine and its people from within Palestine by some of its people.
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The same can happen with Israel’s apartheid practices. If military occupation and apartheid become concepts that stand on their own, without context, Israel’s impunity is generated to an unprecedented degree. Palestine’s fragmentation is already generated on so many levels that there is no consensus on what is defined as colonised land. On the other hand, Israel’s impunity is guaranteed through Palestine’s fragmentation, both territorial and conceptual. The Palestine that Palestinians want to speak about no longer exists. Instead, Palestine as an international concept has obliterated Palestinians in much the same way that talk of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip has obliterated Israel’s settler-colonial roots. Only the latter thrives through such obliteration, while Palestine disappears altogether.
Human rights and international law violations cannot become a veneer for obliterating what Israel really is: a settler-colonial enterprise on colonised Palestinian land. Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki knows better for sure, but the PA’s political comfort zone seems to be preferred.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.