In Israel’s narrative, every entity and individual who doesn’t toe the colonial line is considered to be contributing towards “pushing peace further away”. This claim has now been made against the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, after he criticised Israel’s ongoing expansion of its illegal colony-settlements. He made his comments during a recent UN Security Council briefing.
Ma’an news agency has published excerpts of Mladenov’s comments and the subsequent statement issued by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesperson. The latter complained that Mladenov was “distorting history and international law.”
Even though the framework of Mladenov’s criticism departed from the two-state compromise, which has been extremely beneficial to Israel due to the obvious and growing impossibility of it ever coming into being (and it also buys Israel time to continue its slow extermination of Palestinians by its geophysical expansion), Israel has still deemed the occasion to be worthy of another round of twisted rhetoric.
According to Ma’an, Mladenov told the Security Council: “Let me be clear. No legal acrobatics can change the fact that all outposts, whether ‘legalised’ under Israeli law or not, whether located on state land, or absentee land, or private land, just like all settlements in Area C and East Jerusalem, remain illegal under international law.”
Israel, of course, is perfectly aware of the restrictions placed upon official statements due to the framework of international law, as well as the enshrined duplicity at the UN, which is the base for aberrations such as colonialism in Palestine. It is clear that Mladenov was not calling for the expulsion of Jews, as Netanyahu’s spokesperson insisted. Neither was he disputing the existence of Israel (which should actually top the international agenda).
In fact, although in comparison to other official condemnations Mladenov’s words are slightly more assertive, they are still shackled by the same institutions that have created the space necessary for a calculated debate in which Israeli violations are disguised as a “stalemate” in the pointless peace talks. Israel’s clear distortion and manipulation of Mladenov’s words is obvious in the statement from Netanyahu’s office: “The Palestinian demand that a future Palestinian state be ethnically cleansed of Jews is outrageous and the UN must condemn it instead of adopting it.”
There is nothing that indicates a Palestinian demand for ethnic cleansing in either history or diplomacy. Indeed, the incessant concessions made by the Palestinian leadership demonstrate the exact opposite. Nevertheless, it is hypocritical of both Israel and the UN to expect that a Palestinian state should be peopled by Israeli settlers. Any acceptance of settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories is an acceptance of colonisation; the UN and the Palestinian Authority may have no qualms about that, but ordinary Palestinians resist the notion — as is their right enshrined in international law — even if it is something that the international community is averse to accepting and implementing.
As Israeli government approval for more settlement construction continues to be made public, the international community has once again fallen into the trap of viewing the occupation of Palestine as dating from 1967 and not 1948, when the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians began. This allows Israel further space to manoeuvre and distort the definition of “settler” to create additional levels of impunity. This perpetual distortion of the facts provides Israel with the necessary international backing to continue with its plans, fully aware that future diplomatic antics will construct another hypothesis which allows not only for colonial expansion, but also its equivalent in fabricated narrative and memory.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.