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Israel’s need to reinvent its illegal existence

Two particular recurring frameworks emerge from the latest Israeli violence against Palestinians in Jerusalem – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s continuation of home demolitions in alleged retaliation against “terror” and demands that the international community condemn “Palestinian terror against Israel”. In reference to the recent killings of Israelis while at a synagogue in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said, “I want to see shock, utter denunciation,” in reference to the reaction expected by Israel from the international community.

Asserting colonial dominance through violence – an inherent characteristic of Israel – was obliterated from Netanyahu’s rhetoric. Accusations of Palestinian incitement allegedly ignited by Palestinian leaders from the PA, Hamas and Islamic Jihad were juxtaposed against demands for Palestinian recognition of Israel – a predictable tactic that continues to shape the settler-colonial state’s regurgitated pleas.

Meanwhile, Ma’an News Agency reported that Israeli soldiers carried out further retaliation against Palestinians. Rampages included physical assault, damage to property, beatings, use of tear gas and targeting Palestinians with rubber-coated bullets, ostensibly in the name of “unity” that, according to the Times of Israel, Netanyahu linked to “Jerusalem and the security of the citizens of Israel”.

Both of Netanyahu’s demands are intrinsic to the current scenario and the colonisation process. Just as “Operation Protective Edge” and other previous massacres were isolated from their historical background in order to sustain the compromised legitimacy granted to Israel by the international community, the current Israeli retaliation against Palestinian resistance has also been discussed within a temporary framework in relation to settlement expansion.

A statement by US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke emphasised the timeframe in relation to colonial expansion. “We reiterate our clear and consistent opposition to construction activity in East Jerusalem. During this sensitive time in Jerusalem, we would see such activity as inconsistent with the goal of lowering tensions and seeking a path towards peace.” Evoking “sensitive time” has been a recurring characteristic of the US’ alleged condemnation of Israeli expansion – a necessary clause in rhetoric to ensure both colonial and imperialist domination in the region.

In the same manner, the temporary aspect has been invoked by the Israeli government to persist in its violence through dwelling destruction. The “punitive measure” – a term related to the destruction of Palestinian homes linked to resistance – will provide a screen for the practice constantly employed by Netanyahu and which has been a significant feature consolidating the existence of Israel’s illegal presence in Palestine.

Israel has accused PA President Mahmoud Abbas of “distorting reality”. The ambiguity within the statement serves Israeli interests. Not giving a context to reality renders such an utterance convenient for the settler-colonial state, as it avails itself of the liberty to append distortion despite the irrelevance of the situation. While Abbas should be held accountable for his distortion of Palestinian memory, history and resistance, which have been marginalised to accommodate Israel’s dominant narrative, distortion of the current reality has been perpetrated by Israel – an exercise that, despite its superiority in force compared to Palestine, exhibits a major weakness – that of constantly having to manipulate and reinvent the essence of its existence to ensure its illegal survival.

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