Just days after Hamas welcomed Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to Gaza in the name of internal reconciliation, PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat expounded upon the political commitment to fulfil “all of its obligations under signed agreements with Israel.” If Palestine continues to be defined through such blunders, which constitute the preferred option of the international community, Palestinian identity and resistance will suffer irreparable setbacks, particularly as Hamas has, out of necessity, agreed to Mahmoud Abbas’s demands.
In a statement published by Wafa news agency, Erekat recalled the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s recognition of Israel in 1993: “This historic compromise is evidence of our commitment to achieving a genuine and lasting peace with Israel.” The statement refers to the two-state compromise and its purportedly independent Palestinian state, while admitting that Israel has continued its colonial expansion over Palestinian territory. Erekat also condemned the international community’s attempts “to equate between the occupied and the occupied,” calling for proper discernment to indicate Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights.
The veteran official ignores important details and analysis, mostly with regard to differentiation. There is no indication that the PA is seeking to further the Palestinian narrative internationally. So far, and the trend is set to continue, promoting Israel’s security on an equal footing with that of achieving a Palestinian state has not only embellished official speeches but also, on the ground, created the space for mutating violence to take place against Palestinian civilians. If Erekat wishes for a distinction between “the occupied and the occupied,” the PA should also refrain from amalgamating Israel’s alleged security concerns with the concept of a Palestinian state. Instead, it should be asserted that security concerns form part of the colonial project and therefore are part of the process which ensures the eradication of even a hypothetical Palestinian state, let alone its manifestation.
However, the lack of distinction — of which both the PA and the international community are guilty — is the harvest of decades of compromise. When Erekat speaks of “historic compromise” and fulfilling obligations, it is vital to note whose obligations the PA has been consistently fulfilling. Since he and the UN have eliminated the fact that international law allows the colonised population to use any and all means to achieve liberation, the PA has achieved a historic compromise that serves the colonial project. This compromise, which Erekat defines as recognition of Israel, promotes oblivion with regard to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine upon which Israel was founded. It does not prioritise the Palestinian right of return, preferring instead to relegate it to a cloistered memory and, as a result, refusing to integrate this right within the context of land reclamation.
As a result of “historic compromise”, Palestinians have lost territory and lives, and wasted years incarcerated in Israeli jails. Their supposed leaders, meanwhile, continue to safeguard their positions by fluctuating between claims, mainly lending support to Israeli demands and seeking diluted recognition of demands which are conditioned by impositions beneficial to the occupying power.
Neither scenario bodes well for Palestinians, which creates a greater urgency to safeguard what is left of Palestine. The PA’s lack of credibility among ordinary Palestinians has been confirmed by Erekat’s recent statement. With reconciliation topping the current agenda, it is hoped that Hamas can influence alternatives, rather than capitulate to the aggressive policies pursued by Abbas which have exacerbated the already horrendous conditions suffered by the Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.