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The PA’s contradictory statements

April 7, 2016 at 2:17 pm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest gimmick is an invitation to Mahmoud Abbas to discuss a resumption of negotiations following the latter’s grovelling for the two-state compromise. It is still being given priority within Palestinian Authority circles, despite the obvious ridicule implied.

Furthermore, another attempt at denouncing Israel came from veteran negotiator Saeb Erekat, who insisted that the PA would not accept unconditional negotiations with Israel. In response to the prime minister’s invitation, he stated, “Netanyahu has to announce the halt of settlements, release the fourth batch of prisoners and recognise all the previous agreements.”

Last Monday, Erekat also asserted that Israeli demolitions of Palestinian dwellings and structures are being reported to the International Criminal Court (ICC). As was the case on previous occasions, some of the buildings demolished by Israel were built with EU funding. According to Palestine News Network, Erekat described the demolitions as “another act of collective punishment committed by Israel against the Palestinian civilian population in violation of international law and Israel’s obligations as the belligerent occupying power.” He expressed his belief that granting impunity for continued and systematic Israeli crimes will not achieve a resumption of negotiations. “Instead, it is killing any realistic political horizon to end the Israeli occupation of the State of Palestine.”

As usual, Erekat’s only consistency is found in his contradictions. A perfunctory reading of his comments generates doubt; an analysis deciphers dissonance. After decades of Israel perfecting its violent tactics through manipulation, Erekat and the PA have restricted themselves to recapitulations of lists of human rights violations committed against Palestinians, perhaps in a bid to impart the impression of being in touch with the humanitarian aspect of political violence. Countless reports by human rights groups documenting Israeli brutality have provided enough awareness; for Erekat to add another role to his diplomatic agenda is hypocritical, particularly within the context of allegedly refusing “unconditional negotiations” with Israel.

Several factors invalidate the claim of unconditional negotiations. The PA itself is an entity that thrives upon compromise, including the protection of Israeli settlers at the expense of the Palestinian people through the notorious security coordination agreement. Erekat has asserted repeatedly his recognition of Israel’s existence, a form of subjugation that has compromised the formation and function of the Palestinian unity government.

Most importantly, the repeated pleas to halt settlement expansion are contentious when considering the implications of the two-state paradigm. While halting further construction would be a welcome step, the differentiation endorsed by the PA in its acquiescence to the 1967 borders gives Israel and its settler population undeserved legitimacy. It is in vain that Erekat repeats the mantra that Israel’s ultimate aim is the disappearance of Palestine. The PA is contributing towards Palestine’s demise through its recognition of Israel’s illegal colonial presence.

Perhaps the PA would do well to realise that Israel is not the only entity capable of inflicting collective punishment upon the Palestinian population. The triangle of complicity – comprising Israel, the PA itself and the international community — has forged a scheme through which legitimising colonisation has resulted in the intentional condemnation of the oppression suffered by Palestinians to oblivion. No matter how many documents are submitted to the ICC in a probably pointless quest for “partial justice”, as articulated last year by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Al-Maliki, this has to be seen for what it is; an attempt to evoke a sense of accomplishment despite the evident inferiority of the PA’s position.

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