The Palestinian Authority’s penchant for divisive politics plumbed to new lows after Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki announced the delivery of three truckloads of medical supplies to Venezuela. Social media reacted harshly as the PA exploited the suffering of the people in Venezuela and Gaza, pointing out — rightly so — the inconsistency of aiding one nation while driving Palestinians in the besieged coastal enclave toward an even more catastrophic humanitarian disaster.
For several weeks, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas has proclaimed that Gaza will face further cuts if Hamas does not adhere to the authority’s political impositions and step back from the governance of the enclave. Sending humanitarian aid to Venezuela at a time when Palestinians in Gaza have been deprived intentionally of access to basic medical services and human rights is fraught with sinister nuances.
As reported by Ma’an news agency, Al-Maliki declared that the PA wanted “to repay what it can for what the Venezuelan government has presented to the Palestinian people.” This rhetoric is typical of the PA and reeks of hidden violence, the likes of which the late President Hugo Chavez would have denounced with the same contempt that he reserved for Israel and the US.
Venezuela has been facing increasing right-wing violence instigated by the US-backed opposition which has generated an economic crisis in the country and ramifications that are reminiscent of the wider region’s recent history. The PA’s gesture towards Venezuela should be read as one of convenient diplomacy and dissociated from any notion of purported solidarity; the latter is an expression by Al-Maliki to justify the warped reasoning behind the decision to help Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro while aiding and abetting Israel’s “incremental genocide” of the Palestinians in Gaza.
Equally, it is important to veer away from the trap intended by the PA to inflame resentment against Venezuela, a country which has consistently expressed support for Palestinians and which, after Israel’s Operation Protective Edge offensive in 2014, opened its door for Palestinians to study in its higher education institutions. Indeed, Abbas’s decision should unite Venezuelans and Palestinians in their respective struggles against political violence.
The PA cannot claim solidarity with Venezuela. It can send truckloads of supplies to the country and still make a mockery of the whole concept of humanitarian aid. By implying that there is a choice with regard to sending supplies which both Palestinians and Venezuelans need, the PA has embarked upon selective discrimination to boost its public image. Conversely, it has also exhibited its blatant disregard for Palestinians who are in dire need of emergency supplies and have been condemned to a slow death. For anyone with insight, it is not difficult to see that Venezuelans and Palestinians are merely pawns in the political game that Abbas is playing. Both peoples have been subjected to dependency due to oppression, but only Venezuelans have been deemed worthy of emergency aid by the PA.
This charade is not an internationalist gesture. It is the ploy of a colonial collaborator dispensing with aid that Palestinians have been deprived of and is, therefore, a gesture that is replete with divisions. For Palestinians, the politics of such a gesture are undoubtedly painful; ordinary women, men and children have died due to Abbas’s withholding of medical supplies. Yet, to move beyond the immediate and instinctive furore, it is important more than ever for Palestinians and Venezuelans to unite in their respective struggles.
Such an accomplishment would annihilate whatever shameful political gains Abbas and Al-Maliki envisage, as it would expose the truth behind the façade of solidarity; that the PA is emulating the kind of oppressive tactics which Palestinians and Venezuelans continue to struggle against, and against which the anti-imperialist leaders in Latin America, notably the late Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, waged a legitimate struggle. For every victim of the PA’s political violence; for every refusal to allow Palestinians in Gaza to live a decent life, internationalist solidarity must be multiplied to combat the PA’s manipulation of humanitarian aid.