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Questioning Israeli and imperialist implementations of legitimacy

The question of legitimacy has recently been the subject of a report by Israel’s secret agency, Mossad, claiming that a peace agreement with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was impossible to achieve because of his failure to establish a wide support base among Palestinians. The report, which was discussed recently by the Israeli cabinet, and its response, project Israel’s views of what constitutes legitimacy upon the Palestinian leadership and people while eliminating both the historical and current ramifications of colonisation from the equation.


Israel has attempted to assimilate a common Palestinian concern regarding inadequate official representation to argue that any peace agreement signed with Abbas would solely benefit the Palestinian Authority due to a lack of unification between the leader and the people. A preliminary analysis of such rhetoric would reinforce Israel’s premeditated decision to refrain from any form of substantive negotiations that could result in benefits for Palestinians; hypocritically justified by raising concerns forming part of Palestinian debate with regard to representative leadership. Herein lies the initial problem regarding Israel’s imposition of legitimacy – it is not for Israel to decide what constitutes Palestinian legitimacy since the interpretation emanates from the practice of colonial domination. Israel has moved beyond the definition of an occupying power to incorporate the practice of colonial domination, which permanently disrupts the process of legitimacy.

Palestinian legitimacy is not derived from the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas – it is a process ingrained particularly within the memory of the Nakba and the experiences of actively resisting the colonial framework imposed by Israel, which attempts to defuse the subaltern memory of massacres and displacement. Palestinian memory and legitimacy are not in need of validation, but of public spaces necessary to adamantly articulate their own history. Hence the importance of liberating spaces for Palestinian narratives to flourish and counter the lies, in combination with the perpetual slander propagated by Israel and its international allies. That Israel’s settler-colonial right-wing representatives assume to wield the authority to articulate any sliver of Palestinian concern must be interpreted within the dynamics of colonial rule. Israel is not maintaining the dynamics of colonial rule in a vacuum encompassing solely the illegal creation of the Jewish state. The process is carried out in relation to imperialism and manipulation of international law – the same framework that allowed Israel to promulgate its alleged legitimacy in the first place. An internationalist recognition of the colonial authority as illegitimate should be deployed to challenge both Israel’s hegemonic narrative, as well as imperialism.

The practice of constructing false legitimacy has been essential to maintaining the supremacy of Israel’s historical manipulation. Within the dynamics of that illegal realm, the concept of legitimacy has not only served to sustain colonialism, but also to create simulations of legitimacy that the State of Israel is then able to impose upon Palestinians. Hence, any legitimacy created by Israel is undermined due to the enforced colonisation of Palestine, inducing oblivion to Palestinian collective memory and experiences. Within the context of the recent news, the Israeli imposition of false legitimacy obscures the narratives of Palestinians. Stating that Abbas fails to represent the majority of Palestinians is directly related to Israel’s repudiation of a hypothetical Palestinian state, and does not reflect any semblance of concern regarding viable options for Palestinians. The colonising power to determine what constitutes legitimacy according to the Israeli narrative of security – any imagined legitimacy thus requires justifications for the annihilation of the Palestinian presence in Palestine through territorial expansion and consolidation of imperialist ties.

Within the wider spectrum, Israel’s concepts of legitimacy, namely colonialism and the fabrication of nationhood, which created the foundations for the Jewish State, retain relevance due to the hegemonic position of the colonising power and the Palestinian Authority’s acquiescence, along with the approval of the US and the United Nations – a conglomeration supporting the ties between colonialism and imperialism. It is this dominating political narrative sustaining oppression that bolsters Israel’s illegal concept of legitimacy, against international law.

However, the ongoing attempts to stifle Palestinian political consciousness is also an orchestrated collective effort that has been normalised by the United Nations’ commitment to futile resolutions and rhetoric that hold no authority over events on the ground, allowing political violence to supersede the validity and legitimacy of international law. Instead of stimulating revulsion at the atrocities committed by the colonial and imperial structure, which precedes the establishment of the State of Israel and allows the same state to infringe international law, violence against Palestinians becomes a neutral subject which allows the coloniser to construct the framework of necessary subjugation under the pretence of maintaining a commitment to human rights that are applied only to the Jewish demographic majority. The imposed legitimacy has attempted an occupation of memories, which need liberation within the framework of authentic legitimacy and strengthened by the Palestinian historical narratives, without any form of intervention by Israel or the international community, which only distorts and dehumanises the Palestinian experience through internationally sanctioned colonisation.

While the fabricated assertions of legitimacy, as advocated by Israel, have been established, it is imperative to consider the complicity between colonialism and imperialism, Israel and imperialism, and the United Nations’ commitment to Israel’s colonial conquests. The analysis of Israeli concepts of legitimacy should also take into account the violence perpetrated by the subjugation of international law to imperialism, which facilitates selective interpretation and application of legitimacy depending upon the particular configuration of submission, domination and revolt. Based upon the imperialist framework, the allegedly legitimate framework excludes any discussion of Palestinian rights and representation, and is a mere platform from which distortion of history is manipulated into a real life conspiracy sanctioning further violence upon a population that has been fragmented and dispersed. It is an extension of the violence that is sanctioned under the guise of foreign intervention, alienating and diverting attention away from the reality of organised violence in Palestine – a situation neutralised within legal discourse in order to prohibit any reasonable analysis about the complicity of international law and imperialist doctrine – as the former promotes a perpetual state of war to sustain the dynamics of oppression. Israeli colonisation and imperialism are sanctioned by the United Nations, imposing a ruthless interpretation of what constitutes legitimacy and the manner in which it should be utilised and implemented, thus sabotaging the authenticity of Palestinian subaltern memory.

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

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