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External impositions of violence and oblivion

May 3, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Following a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, issued a statement with regard to the unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas. The statement made no reference to Hamas, instead focusing on Abbas’s emphasis that a unity agreement would include recognition of Israel and adherence to non-violence, as well as a commitment to peace negotiations.

For the UN, the assurances derived from Abbas are erroneously of greater value than the opinion of Palestinians and the different factions. In this regard, it is pertinent to question the implications of unity for the UN and Israel’s international allies, which have embarked upon endorsing unity according to their perspectives and expectations, amongst them the inclination to foment discord and ensure the safeguarding of the settler-colonial state.

Mainstream rhetoric of uniting the West Bank and Gaza is in itself fragmented, overshadowed by the perpetual demand of a two-state solution and recognition of Israel. Catherine Ashton’s remarks are reminiscent of the fragmented unity advocated by Israel’s allies. Besides invoking the abstract configuration of “non-violence” – a term that differs according to context and country, Ashton also stressed the importance of recognising “Israel’s legitimate right to exist”, which should be considered an obsolete phenomenon and replaced by the dismantling of the settler-colonial state as opposed to implementing a hypothetical unity tarnished by imperialist projections.

A major part of the discourse revolves around the concept of renouncing “violence” – a generic misrepresentation that alludes to resistance against settler-colonialism while justifying the use of continuous force deployed in the name of security coordination. As expected, Israeli ministers Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett reinforced the fragmentation by associating violence with Hamas and placing additional external constraints in an attempt to suffocate any ideology that does not acquiesce to Israel’s demands.

Perhaps the most obscure form of violence constitutes a discussion of the 1967 borders, with contradictory reports emerging about a possible recognition by Hamas. YNet News quoted Hamas Deputy Foreign Minister Ghazi Hamad as stating, “We want a Palestinian state based upon the 1967 borders,” while asserting that recognition would not be granted to Israel. If endorsed, the statement is a departure from the resistance embodied by Hamas and can be perceived as a form of violence against the unity of the Palestinian population, including refugees. The 1967 borders do not challenge the essence of Israel’s settler-colonial project; hence the violence perpetrated against Palestinians in the Nakba as inscribed in the Plan Dalet risks being disregarded, to the detriment of the indigenous population.

In this regard, resistance risks becoming diluted in favour of diplomacy favouring, albeit probably grudgingly, a two-state solution that remains as hypothetical as ever. As currently depicted, political unity is trapped within external impositions of violence, the ideological and tangible violence perpetrated by settler-colonialism and the more subtle form of violence exacerbated by exclusion. If unity is detrimental to resistance, Palestinians will have to contend with the deterioration of territory and memory – not only in relation to imperialist-supported settler-colonisation, but also within the realisation that history has been detached from the current reality.

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