Two recent reports in the Times of Israel can be read as confirmation that US President Donald Trump's policy towards Palestine may be perceived as more belligerent than that of Barack Obama. However, if proof was ever needed of the seamless manner in which an incoming president emulates and continues the destruction of Palestine through colonisation, one need not look any further.
During a press conference on Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner stated that the Trump administration is holding discussions with Israel about settlement expansion to see "how exactly they would look," adding a reminder that during last month's joint press conference, Trump asked Netanyahu to hold back on further construction.
Putting aside the ambiguous statement in which Trump appeared to be veering away from the two-state paradigm, there is little difference in diplomacy regarding the issue. An unnamed US administration official quoted in Israeli media described Trump as "committed to working with Israel and the Palestinians on a comprehensive peace deal that will allow both sides to live in the peace and security they deserve."
In other news, on Tuesday, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley met with Palestinian counterpart Riyad Mansour. She tweeted the outcome of the meetings, which was a rehash of previous impositions on Palestinians, namely "the need for the Palestinian Authority to stop its incitement to violence" and again seeking to dissuade the PA from "looking at the UN to deliver results." To summarise, the US is seeking the path of direct negotiations with Israel to support "a true peace process."
Rather than oppose the evident coercion in Haley's demands, Mansour imparted an appreciative tone, discussing the meeting as a time during which the US Ambassador to the UN "raised the desire to see the two parties engaging in negotiations."
A more revealing statement by Haley reported in the Times of Israel read: "We absolutely support a two-state solution, but we are thinking out of the box as well." The statement is reminiscent of Trump's earlier, widely disseminated remark. The difference lies in the context of recent developments, or rather, reiterations.
During the previous negotiations in the time of Obama's presidency, PA President Mahmoud Abbas was also instructed to refrain from using the available international platforms. The PA only availed itself of the option when all bargaining attempts were disregarded, thus placing itself into a more inferior position due to allowing further destructive action to take place against Palestine.
Following a series of brief, symbolic, purported victories, the latest being UN Security Council Resolution 2334 which departed from the colonial narrative, Israel retaliated with increasing aggression, demolitions and plans for expansion. This is not the first time that Israel retaliated through colonial appropriation; Israel necessitates this form of violence to sustain itself. The recent violations were dissociated from the previous aggressions through the distraction provided by Trump.
It is time to place less emphasis on Trump as political comic relief and instead invest more effort in exposing the entire cycle of complicity. Mansour has once again assured the US of PA acquiescence, despite refraining from explicit commitment to engage in peace talks. Yet, the Paris initiative is already an indication of the PA's political agenda. As for seeking legitimacy through the UN, the PA does so through a corrupted stance. If the PA was capable of using the UN as a platform from which it articulates true Palestinian demands, there is a possibility that less harm would have been inflicted upon people and territory, for the simple reason that raising Palestinian narratives and memory is essential in order to sustain a favourable political process.
The PA has obviously refused to consider such an amendment to its diplomatic engagement and it is ridiculous to entertain the notion that it ever will. If the PA accepts direct negotiations with Israel, Palestine will increase its losses. Resorting to the UN is the equation of a corrupted entity resorting to another corrupt institution, resulting in additional fragmentation which in turn sustains impunity. The reported details constitute a form of alienation through which endless discussions pitting futile possibilities against each other ensue, even as Palestinians are forced, through these dominant political trends, to become observers of their own disintegration, facilitated by all diplomatic actors supported, in one way or another, by the PA.
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