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The politics of selective compromise

“They already have a certain amount of self-determination – something that’s less than a state but covers almost all of the Palestinian population.” Elkin’s statement refers to the alleged lack of control over 60 per cent of the West Bank, dismissing Mahmoud Abbas’ constantly criticised economic dependency and security cooperation with Israel. In his interview with the Times of Israel, Ze’ev Elkin mangles historical processes to emit a decrepit reasoning amounting to less than a misguided ideology. During a discussion incorporating the peace talks, Netanyahu, settlements and the issue of a Palestinian state, Elkin seeks to highlight an allegedly precarious issue of compromise to destroy any hypothetical possibility of a Palestinian state in light of the latest peace talks.


Selective compromise remains at the helm of Elkin’s lament. Eliminating the colonial aspect which sustains the foundations of the state of Israel, Elkin cites alleged political differences with Netanyahu, a tactic which seems to have corroded after yesterday’s news suggesting that Israel will retain 85 per cent of its illegal settlements in the West Bank. Whatever minimal differences might exist within the current coalition, it is clear that through diplomacy and settler-colonialism efforts, the Israeli government is seeking to exploit the farcical peace talks in order to establish a well known fact allegedly reiterated by John Kerry: “One of my major goals is to establish a Jewish country for Jews.”

There is no concrete evidence in support of Elkin’s conviction of Netanyahu’s belief in the existence of a Palestinian state. Embarking on an analysis of Zionism throughout various stages, the foundations of the Likud charter, as well as the establishment of human rights violations against Palestinians as an integral part of daily routine, does not support Elkin’s allegation. Rather, it reinforces the Zionist methods of collective punishment against the Palestinian population and triggers doubts as to whether the Ramallah-based government is ready to pursue alternative avenues in the quest for self-determination and statehood.

Elkin’s rhetoric reeks of historical betrayal, starting with the mythical “land of Israel which is the historical basis of the Jewish people”. Departing from the Zionist’s fictitious premise, an immediate solution is held in disdain: “When you try to build a solid concept on shifting sands, your concept collapses.” Even so, Elkin seeks to create an analogy between waiting and further construction of settlements, effectively asserting that Israel’s fluid borders are essential to prolong the process of waiting in order to usurp further land into the Jewish state and enhance the Jewish presence, despite the illegality of settlement construction under international law. The rampant and intentional oblivion is justified by imposing the Zionist propaganda upon Palestinians as, according to Elkin, “a Palestinian state is no solution, not for us and I don’t think for them either”. Palestinian statehood is a process shackled by the Zionist agenda, a widespread movement encompassing grassroots resistance but hampered by Abbas and his dependency upon the colonial state, as well as by Israel’s enduring objective to eliminate all traces of the Palestinian population. Elkin asks, “What do you do with the Palestinian population?”, implying erroneously a dilemma which the Zionist agenda embarked upon fulfilling decades ago as evidenced by the Nakba of 1948, which transformed into a continuous practice of ethnic cleansing perfected by Israel’s adherence to apartheid.

A Palestinian state is deemed “bad”, therefore “managing the conflict” by supporting settlement construction because, according to Elkin, “the other side is not static”, is considered to be a legitimate temporary solution. This flawed reasoning is highlighted consistently by a lingering complaint of Palestinian assertion regarding a return to the 1967 borders, an unacceptable demand according to Netanyahu and the settler advocates who perceive the request as losing the capacity to “ask for something in return”.

It is an ideology of usurpation that supports this preposterous hypothesis. Too many euphemisms already exist in order to minimise not only the consequences of Israel’s illegal occupation, but also Israeli and international responsibility. Imperial policy has sustained itself upon plunder, with occasional perfunctory concessions designed to integrate its mildest critics while conceding nothing to the oppressed. The Palestinian right to self-determination, land and nationhood is constrained within the imposed parameters of the imperial agenda. It is reduced to a specimen of bargaining ineffectiveness through internal and international adherence to corruption best symbolised by a global preoccupation with defining terror and security concerns beyond the colonial and apartheid state, as states indulge in drafting legislation and speeches designed to disassociate the higher powers from their responsibilities in promulgating state terror. This process emphasises the lack of collective awareness; the varying degrees of complicity in effectively allowing governments and international organisations to dictate definitions of resistance as terror, while relying upon the same bodies to create the conditions of safety and peace. This is a contradiction which illustrates a dependence upon organisations thriving within illegality and violations of the same laws they profess to uphold.

Accusing Palestinians of “not moving a millimetre”, or equating what Abbas speaks about with what the majority of Palestinians aspire to (the two are not synonymous), reveals Israel’s contempt, not only for the dehumanising conditions it has created, but also for attempting to undermine Palestinian autonomy through the representation personified by Abbas. It is relatively easier to target an official representative asserting a return to the 1967 borders after falling into agreement with the Oslo Accords, than legitimise Palestinian indignation and resistance, which are struggling to retain both identity and rights over what should be recognised as Palestinian land.

It is therefore imperative to distinguish between the masses and their representation in order to discern what not moving a millimetre means to both factions. The masses will not concede their national identity despite the occupation; any gesture veering towards reconciliation with Israel would ultimately determine self-destruction through acquiescence. On the other hand, it is very unlikely that Abbas will assume a revolutionary stance, being hampered by dependence on the occupiers and the expectations of the key international players who have determined Fatah’s political process and image.

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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