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Palestine doesn't need an 'international peace conference' which will reject liberation strategies

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (L-2) and Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki (C) attend the 29th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 3 July, 2017 [Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency]
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (L-2) and Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki (C) attend the 29th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 3 July, 2017 [Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian media are reporting that Mahmoud Abbas has appealed to the African Union to support, and participate in, a possible international conference "to take care of the peace process." As always, the Palestinian Authority leader's rhetoric shifts between the similarities in the Palestinian and African struggle against colonialism, while asking for support in promoting international interests in Palestine.

In his speech to the AU, Abbas rejected "any American intervention in the affairs of any country, as is happening now in Venezuela." Yet, there is still no rejection of the two-state paradigm in which the US will continue to play a part. The PA is still distinguishing between different forms of intervention and playing this game to the Palestinians' disadvantage. The two-state imposition, which safeguards colonial Israel, is a form of intervention that has been approved internationally and hence attracts negligible opposition.

However, it also dilutes any possible support for the Palestinian cause. Abbas's promotion of the two-state hypothesis as the only solution, echoing the international community's stipulations, is conditioning any forthcoming support into immediate compromise.

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Africa's experience of colonialism has rendered the continent perpetually vulnerable. The shaping of former colonised countries resulted in differentiating between the memory of the anti-colonial struggle and the subsequently fragile politics shaped by dependence on international bodies. Politics have also dictated priorities, so there is not a single government that is willing to take the UN to task for facilitating the aftermath of the colonial era into an ongoing, exploitative cycle. For Palestinians who are still living under the trajectory of colonialism, seeking support from governments or institutions is a process that is tied first and foremost to the preservation of the entities that have been historically supportive of colonial endeavours. Indeed, the two-state imposition itself legitimises the colonial project that Israel was always intended to be.

In recent years, Israel has been trying to infiltrate the continent of Africa by offering its technological expertise to nation states in return for diplomatic support. Yet dependence goes both ways. Israel is increasingly seeking diplomatic support that can bolster its power, rather than seek to legitimise its politics and existence through the usual channels. Historically, it has relied on imperial powers to establish its colonial presence. Turning to countries that are politically defined by need is the next step. This endeavour ensures that Israel benefits diplomatically and economically, while creating enough compromise to prevent the emancipation of countries acquiescing to Israel's plans, as well as reduce the possibilities of tangible support for the Palestinians and their liberation cause.

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Abbas has proved himself to be incapable of suggesting any alternative that defies international stipulations. The international and, in fact, the PA's structure and allegiances do not allow the dissemination of the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle unless these fall within the decided parameters of "peacebuilding". Like the rest of the international community, the AU already supports the two-state paradigm; it stands to reason, therefore, that it will also support something as trivial and ultimately pointless as an "international peace conference". Gone are the days when Abbas was able to sell such charades as a success, though.

The Palestinian people's demands are in direct confrontation with the aims and objectives of international institutions. Meanwhile, the PA refuses to consider other legitimate options. The result is that instead of furthering the Palestinian struggle, Abbas is calling upon other countries to support a diplomatic intervention which will ensure the continuation of colonialism in occupied Palestine. Palestine doesn't need another conference which will only reject liberation strategies; it needs positive action in furtherance of the legitimate rights of its people to return to their land and see the end of the Israeli occupation.

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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