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Obama’s interpretation of peace and the intention to restrict Palestinian resistance

Heroic illusions with regards imperialist intervention and rhetoric about a hypothetical peace agreement characterised an interview which US President Obama granted to Bloomberg.


During a discussion hailing the restraint of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to declare his allegiance to Palestinians, the intentional division of Palestine to accommodate a compromised Palestinian state and the misplaced defence of Israel’s fabricated legitimacy, Obama has attempted an external imposition of consent upon a population that lacks adequate political representation.

With diplomacy propelling Abbas to the false prominence that the US is fond of articulating, Obama applauded proof of complicity as symbolic sincerity on behalf of the PA president, declaring he has “proven to be somebody who has been committed to non-violence and diplomatic efforts to resolve this issue”. This statement sets the precedent for the rest of the interview, which manipulates realities into misconceptions about settler-colonialism and resistance driven by ambiguous statements regarding peace, thus allowing the US to shift dialogue regarding its constant implementation of violence.

The language used throughout the interview is a veneer to promote the incessant protection of the Zionist state while focusing on the alleged attempt to relinquish the maintenance of the settler-colonial project. It is by using terms such as “conflict” and “issue” that violence becomes a concept that reinforces Israel’s expansive and oppressive character. There is no restriction upon the fluidity of Israel’s borders – only a “permanence” that does not take into consideration the illegality of any Israeli borders declared upon land usurped from the indigenous population.

Throughout the interview, Obama’s endorsement of violence was thinly veiled, with references to permanence and peace compromised by the ominous superiority of Israel, supported by the US and its allies, including international organisations. Israel is portrayed as an isolated entity, which only depicts a sliver of reality. While international scrutiny has indeed increased, the settler-colonial state remains defended by its accomplices.

The commitment to Israel’s security as upheld by the US and the compromised international community is the essence of the violence resulting from the unflinching protection bestowed upon the settler-colonial state.

Settlement construction is the reason given by Obama for the possible disintegration of the current negotiations. However, Obama has been careful to isolate settlement construction within a temporary framework devoid of historical ramifications, thus allowing the settler-colonial state to remain disassociated from “occupation”.

While settlements are part of an impediment to any concocted agreement, the current trend of magnifying forthcoming construction as an isolated phenomenon does not challenge the existence of Israel’s settler-colonialism, which can also be interpreted as a tangible metaphor of refined violence since the Nakba of 1948.

Isolating settlements from the historical colonisation plans for Palestine is nothing but an interim measure providing a semblance of discussion which can be woven within the forthcoming compromised framework.

The recent shift in rhetoric concerning Abbas’ willingness to recognise Israel as a Jewish state was also incorporated within the wider framework disseminated by Obama, in which Israel’s security concerns are portrayed as the prerequisite to the fulfilment of any peace agreement.

Palestinians are only included in the framework to depict the alleged difficulties that the international community would be facing, “if Palestinians come to believe that the possibility of a contiguous sovereign state is no longer within their reach”. Here, Obama intentionally fails to articulate the difference between resistance to achieve self-determination and the abomination of a state based upon fragmented territory.

Obama’s interpretation of peace restricts Palestinian resistance; hence the portrayal of Abbas as absolute and integral to the negotiations. The renewed allegiance between Abbas and imperial violence directed against the people he claims to represent has been affirmed. Palestinians are erroneously generalised into a population whose aspirations are always articulated through the imperialist concept of freedom within constraints to which the indigenous population is expected to conform.

Obama states that his visits to the region have highlighted to him the aspirations of a people who desire the lifting of restrictions. Giving priority to Israel’s legitimacy and security concerns renders any semblance of freedom for Palestinians within the current negotiations flawed and constantly subjected to the Zionist state’s demands.

To exacerbate further Obama states that “the voices for peace within the Palestinian community will be stronger with a framework agreement and that Abu Mazen’s position will be strengthened with a framework for negotiations.” The contradiction is evident – Palestinians clamouring for freedom through various means of resistance have nothing in common with the fraudulent Palestinian representation.

Partly through Abbas’ compliance, the definition of the Palestinian state has eroded into a concept endorsed by the mainstream narrative, regardless of its consequences upon Palestinians, particularly the flaws which prohibit the implementation of the right to return. It is disassociated from the majority of Palestinians and allows Israel and the international community to avoid accountability for the establishment of the settler-colonial state and previous plans for colonisation.

Furthermore, Abbas is expected to comply with entities whose endorsement of violence has been routinely exhibited. US Secretary of State John Kerry has formulated plans for Israel’s alleged security concerns “that are unprecedented in detail, unprecedented in scope,” through collaboration with the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and the US former commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen. The caricature of resistance against future oppression as terrorism is already enshrined within Obama’s concept of peace – a cycle which is constantly refined to uphold the absolute impunity granted to Israel.

Obama also attempts to alienate his audience from the legitimacy of resistance by alleging that “Hamas would be greatly damaged by the prospect of real peace”. As with other conjectures within the interview, the dubious statement should be addressed as a peripheral projection upon the validity and necessity of resistance.

The imperialist context of interference and coercion substitutes the ramifications of further oppression of the indigenous population under the current negotiations for “real peace”, disrupting the sequence through which peace can be achieved. Any alleged damage to Hamas as an embodiment of resistance is an assumption that seeks to promote Abbas’ ability to bargain over Palestinian freedom. Hence, Obama’s delusion over any possible damage to Hamas should elicit a more defined argument in favour of resistance among Palestinians, as well as the dismantling of the settler-colonial state as a precondition to any peace negotiations.

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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