The US decision to close down the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s office in Washington is reported to have been made in retaliation for the Palestinian Authority’s decision to reject negotiations and call for Israel to be investigated at the International Criminal Court. Neither of these decisions is a novelty. The PA has used both as a bargaining tool for its own interests, extending the manipulation of existing delays affecting Palestinian rights. Over many years, the PA has proved its allegiance to the international community, always to the detriment of the Palestinian people.
Why would the PA continue to dissociate one action from the other? Recently, a delegation met with CIA representatives, thus confirming the importance that the PA hierarchy attaches to security coordination with the occupation authorities. The US State Department announcement of the closure of the PLO office, on the other hand, produced howls of indignation. According to Wafa news agency, the US move prompted Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh to state that Palestinian rights “are more important than the relationship with the United States.”
Similarly, the head of the PLO delegation to the US, Husam Zomlot, declared, “Our rights are not for sale and we will block any attempts at bullying and blackmailing us to forgo our legitimate and internationally endorsed rights.”
It is no secret that the US has consistently acted in Israel’s interests; the only difference now is that President Donald Trump is doing so very openly indeed. What’s more, the PA has also prioritised Israeli interests, creating a situation where, on the surface, it seems as if the US is penalising the PA while, in reality, Palestinians continue to suffer from the impact of the Authority’s complicity in the occupation. Abbas’s substitution of justice for compromised action is the underlying issue that should be discussed above all else.
To waste time in diplomatic statements that seek to portray the PA in a good light is harming Palestinian rights. Abbas has utilised diplomatic channels for PA prestige rather than Palestinian demands. The international community has contributed to this strategy by defining Palestinians through the PA. They have been shackled by the misuse and manipulation of terms such as “justice” and “accountability”, words that only serve to bolster officials within a system that exploits the concept of human rights.
Veteran PLO official Saeb Erekat’s words are equally revealing: “Lowering the flag of Palestine in Washington DC… symbolises the US attacks against the international system as a whole.” The system, however, was created to allow for such attacks, especially when considering that human rights have been devised and interpreted by the perpetrators.
Likewise, the PA is a perpetrator when it comes to the denial of Palestinian rights. Despite the swiftly changing political scenario, there is no genuine attempt to veer away from the two-state compromise, or to ask Palestinians to contribute towards laying the groundwork for their aspirations. The situation is one in which the US and Israel are working to shut down all international avenues of support, while the PA continues to persist with the two-state paradigm and the International Criminal Court (ICC), with no focus on the immediate needs of the Palestinian people.
The result is a constant projection of Palestinian rights onto some undefined time in the future. This is a delay that is in concordance with the enforced separation of Palestinians from their legitimate rights, and the complete replacement of the indigenous population of Palestine by Israeli colonists.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.