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Diplomacy takes precedence over violations of international law

January 23, 2014 at 5:19 am

A recent report in the Times of Israel illustrates the emphasis which Israeli officials place upon diplomatic rhetoric, instead of expounding upon the prevailing expansionism associated with the Zionist settler-colonial state. The regular approval of further settlement construction in retaliation for the release of Palestinian political prisoners has portrayed the futility of embarking upon peace negotiations brokered by the US in favour of Israel. In another demonstration of the state’s apparent impunity, Israeli officials have decided to announce the pending settlement construction approval after US Secretary of State John Kerry leaves Israel, lest it should be perceived as “inappropriate”. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to authorise settlement construction beyond the Green Line in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Diplomacy retains its superiority as the focus shifts from the actual settlement expansion to the timing of the announcement. Despite the illegality of the settlements under international law, Israel’s allies in the international community remain committed to protecting the growth of the Zionist state, providing that announcements are made within an appropriate timeframe. Prior to the decision to wait until Kerry’s departure, the European Union commented upon the probability of settlement construction announcements, stating, “There will be very little understanding from the European governments to any announcements of construction in the disputed [sic] territories.” (Note that the territories have shifted from being “occupied” to “disputed”!) There is no tangible opposition to settlement construction from the international community, only a concern that Israel will be perceived as the instigator in disrupting talks destined to restrict Palestinian rights and memory.

Linking the Palestinian prisoners’ release with settlement construction has been denounced by the Palestinian Authority Minister for Prisoners’ Affairs, Issa Karake, who declared the forthcoming announcement an “inappropriate Israeli stunt that is not conducive to peace talks”. Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon suggested the existence of an underlying agenda with regard to the prisoners’ release, despite vociferous Israeli opposition, stating that the decision “stems from broader considerations”. At a glance, the broader consideration would entail the bequeathing of a sliver of rights for Palestinians in return for further degradation of rights for all Palestinians whose identity has been denied.

While Mahmoud Abbas has declared his opposition to settlement expansion and Israeli military presence in the hypothetical Palestinian state, Palestinian rights to return, self-determination, land and nationhood remain secondary within the wider framework, designed to sustain the illegality of the Zionist state. The negotiations commenced with Palestinians at a disadvantage endorsed by Abbas; a precondition enforced by the US included the PA forfeiting the right to resort to international institutions in return for the prisoners’ release. Abbas is insisting upon autonomy, but the Palestinian Authority’s subjugation to Israel and the US continues to take precedence over the demands of all Palestinians, thus ensuring fragmented identity politics due to ineffective leadership. Israeli settlement expansion and the perpetual denial of the Palestinian right to return both illustrate the stalemate of refuting proposals and failing to articulate an effective challenge to Zionist domination. How can the PA acquiesce over the right to resort to legal means and thus grant Israel further impunity over its violations of international law?

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.