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Ensuring the precedence of symbolism over Palestinian rights

Instead of focusing upon international organisations as a platform through which the Palestinian struggle can be articulated and disseminated, the Palestinian Authority has once again prioritised symbolism over rights. The latest initiative consisted of a draft resolution to be presented at the UN General Assembly meeting on 25 September, asking that the flags of both Palestine and the Vatican "be raised at the United Nations Headquarters and Offices following the flags of the member states of the United Nations." Pope Francis is expected to address the UN General Assembly on that day.

The initiative was not welcomed by the Vatican: "The Holy See does not intend to co-sponsor a draft resolution that the State of Palestine may eventually present on the matter." The statement also requested that any reference to the Vatican or phrases such as "on behalf of the Observer States" be removed from the Palestinian draft.

Apart from having prepared the resolution and included the Vatican without consent, the move is another example of diluting the Palestinian struggle by utilising several tactics under the guise of hypothetical support or purported similarity.

Palestine and the Vatican are non-member observer states at the UN. However, any similarities end at this point. The Vatican has a varied history of collaboration with dictatorships in South America, such as Chile under Augusto Pinochet, and has also reportedly been instrumental in facilitating diplomatic talks between Cuba and the US, thus consolidating its status internationally. On the other hand, Palestine remains obscured by internationally-recognised leaders whose main aims are the betrayal of the Palestinian people, support for colonialism and persistence in acquiescence with the occupation by, among other things, coordination with the Israeli security forces.

In this case, the PA sought to sustain its dependent existence by focusing upon a shared similarity which, however, does not go beyond the symbolism of having a flag on display at the UN. Apart from the fact that the Vatican has vehemently refused any form of association with the draft resolution, the PA has once again trampled over Palestinian rights by shifting focus upon a shared, external detail, rather than move forward with requests that deal solely with Palestinian reality and experience. Like most countries, the Vatican's support for Palestine is selective and fails to call for an end to Israeli colonisation, relying instead upon the usual overtures serving as a prelude to peace rhetoric.

In 2014, Pope Francis was compared to revolutionary leader Ernesto Che Guevara, prior to his visit to Bethlehem and Israel. The hyperbole ridiculed the example set by Che, whose support for the Palestinian revolutionary struggle went beyond compromised visits, as the Pope's itinerary portrayed.

What the PA, through its UN Mission, has managed to achieve, is a mere caricature of the Palestinian struggle, this time confined to flag displays and an illusion of shared struggle. Illusions remain on the PA's priority list, a tactic through which it could also, unfortunately, influence other entities to take up transient causes while illegal colonial-settlements continue to erupt over Palestinian territory and Israeli settlers indulge in their vicious, murderous rampages against the indigenous population. Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders persist in conspiracies against land, people and memory, drafting resolutions with flawed premises to safeguard the interests of Israel and the international community. You really couldn't make it up.

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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