Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas will today assume the presidency of the Group of 77 developing nations (G77) at a ceremony hosted by the UN General Assembly. According to PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the appointment, which he described as "an important historical event added to the political achievements of the State of Palestine," will enable the assertion of Palestinian identity, "which colonial powers have tried to abolish over many centuries."
The G77, established in 1964, has now expanded to include 134 countries. It stipulates the organisation's aim to "articulate and promote their collective economic interests" within the UN structure. Article VI of the "Joint Declaration of the Seventy-Seven Developing Countries" which recognises the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) partly states that, "The injustice and neglect of centuries need to be redressed."
Like other UN initiatives, such a noble aim cannot be followed through. The "collective economic interests" are subject to different political realities and allegiances. Palestine's economy, for example, is dependent entirely on that of the occupying power, Israel. Furthermore, the discrepancies between the PA's hyperbole and reality are being accentuated with the emphasis on "gaining international recognition", which has become the only accepted means of asserting a Palestinian presence in global forums.
It is thus becoming even more important than ever to dissociate the PA from the Palestinians, not least because the Ramallah-based leadership has conspired with the international community in determining which aspects of international law should and, perhaps more importantly, should not be applicable to Palestine and the Palestinians.
Abbas has contributed to creating perpetual "humanitarian crisis" conditions among Palestinians due to the PA's dependence upon Israel and the international community. What's more, its oppressive punitive measures against its own citizens in Gaza have elicited no outcry from UN organisations, despite their stated raison d'être of safeguarding human rights and providing opportunities for political, social and economic improvement.
UNCTAD's September 2018 report describes Palestine's economic reality as ongoing "de-development" and mentions decreases in donor support as one of the main reasons for this deterioration.
Abbas's G77 appointment might well be prestigious for the PA, but it does not translate into empowerment of the Palestinian population within the international arena. Lauding this venture glosses over the fact that the G77 is still very much part of a system that has not yet eliminated colonialism. It has, instead, elected a leading colonial collaborator — Abbas himself — to divert attention from the fact that Palestine and Palestinians are a colonised land and people. As long as the PA allows the international community to manipulate Palestinians' reality, and it will continue doing so for its own benefit, there is no way that any international appointment of a PA official — least of all one whose official mandate expired 10 years ago — can be considered as an "important historical event".
Furthermore, what is the "Palestinian identity" which, claims Abu Rudeineh, Abbas will be asserting at the G77? The PA's dissociation from this identity constitutes the biggest impediment to any such declaration. Palestinian identity has historical roots, while the PA's existence and identity is derived from the Oslo Accords, which have failed miserably to achieve their targets, other than to create an entity which protects Israel and its occupation of Palestine. The truth is that the PA has constructed an identity that fits the parameters established by the international community and labelled it as "Palestinian". This travesty will more than likely continue to be the premise upon which Palestinians are denied their freedom in perpetuity.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.