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As Israel prepares to annex most of the West Bank, Abbas bleats about ‘incitement’

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivers during his meeting with Palestinian senior leaders at the Presidency building in Ramallah, West Bank on 18 December, 2017 [Issam RimawiAnadolu Agency]
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas [Issam Rimawi Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas should be aware by now that he can no longer be taken seriously. As evidence of a shrinking Palestine continues to accumulate, Israel and the international community are well aware of this and are applying two complementary strategies. While Israel passes legislation to annex areas of the occupied West Bank colonised by illegal, Jewish settlers, the international community has quietly departed from the scene of its recent condemnations over the US-approved Israeli appropriation of Jerusalem.

The legislation was described by Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan as a “moral right and obligation towards our settler brothers,” indicating the dependency of the colonial entity upon the expansion of its settler-colonies for its own survival. This prompted Abbas to make one of his weakest statements ever: “We shall make important decisions during 2018, including regarding legal avenues, in order to hold Israel accountable for its grave and systematic violations of international law, and to revisit agreements signed with Israel.”

A leader with decolonisation in mind would not stoop so low. Decades have proven that Israel cannot be held accountable and the international community is adamant that it will not try to reverse this impunity. Indeed, UN votes to one side (they mean little), the world is equally assertive that Palestinians should remain tethered to Israeli hegemony until there is no further need to sustain that narrative and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine is complete.

Nothing that Abbas says or does in 2018 can be deemed to be an “important decision”. Giving a hint of what he has in mind, the PA leader called upon the international community “to look at the Israeli incitement against Palestinian rights that is particularly recurrent among members of the government coalition.”

Read: Likud decision to annex West Bank represents ‘Israeli apartheid,’ says Arab MK

There are many weaknesses in Abbas’s statement. First of all, the international community does not need reminders; it is, quite simply and willfully, ignoring Israel’s violations of international law. To crawl and beg continuously in front of a complicit international community has harmed the people of Palestine in the long run; while Israel is rapidly executing its expansionist plans (and executing Palestinians extrajudicially in the process), Abbas is misinterpreting the whole colonial project as a series of isolated violations which he loosely labels “incitement”.

This begs the question of whether or not it is still correct to speak of Israeli incitement. Given the impunity that Israel enjoys, it is imperative that incitement is analysed critically and specified, rather than used as a convenient term to describe actions taken by Israel which result in the loss of Palestinian rights, land and lives. The prelude to such loss is indeed incitement, but it was initiated decades ago. For Abbas to speak of it as if it were something new is a bonus for Israel. Palestinians are witnessing a denial of the current political violence by the leaders which claim to represent them.

Hence, Abbas would do well to refrain from redundant statements which entrench the politically inferior position imposed upon him by Israel, the PA and the international community. If Israel’s legislation paves the way for the physical end of the two-state compromise, why are Abbas and members of the international community still insisting upon what is clearly an obsolete paradigm as the “only” solution? The answer is clear to anyone with eyes and the will to see: by adhering to the concept, Palestinian leaders and the UN are taking several steps backwards and thus buying time for Israel to complete its obliteration of Palestine unhindered. This tactic has been obvious for decades. As Israel prepares to annex most of the West Bank, Abbas bleats about “incitement”; he really can’t be taken seriously anymore.

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

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