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Reclaiming Palestinian rights from Palestinian narratives

US President Donald Trump's Assistant and Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt (L) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) meet in Ramallah, West Bank on May 25, 2017 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]
US President Donald Trump's Assistant and Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt (L) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) meet in Ramallah, West Bank on 25 May 2017 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

US Middle East Envoy Jason Greenblatt has made a series of remarks at the UN Security Council regarding the “fictions of international consensus” when it comes to a solution for Palestine. What he does not acknowledge is the fact that the UN’s collusion in enabling Israel’s colonial project is one of the main reasons why there is no solution, which would require the decolonisation of Palestine and enabling of solutions derived directly from Palestinian narratives and legitimate rights.

“The constant reference to these heavily negotiated, purposely ambiguous worded resolutions is nothing more than a cloak to avoid substantive debate about the realities on the ground and the complexity of the conflict,” claimed Greenblatt. He ignored the fact that the US has no qualms about using ambiguous rhetoric of the kind preferred by the UN; note his reference to “conflict” in order to avoid implicating Israel and the international community in the ongoing colonial project. Palestine has also been the subject of constant debate, the missing part of which at both the UN and in the US is the context of colonised Palestine.

However, for all its talk of deviating from international consensus — which, as Greenblatt stated, is debatable — the US is using decades of groundwork prepared at the UN with regard to eliminating Palestinians’ legitimate political rights. The ultimate US and Israeli aspiration is to eliminate Palestine, Palestinians and their rights — notably the right of return — as quickly as possible.

READ: Palestinian capital in Jerusalem is ‘aspiration not a right’, US’ Greenblatt says 

It is not, as Greenblatt claims, that Palestinians do not have any rights to claim. On the contrary, the UN has prioritised international consensus over Palestinian rights to coerce Palestinians into speaking about aspirations. The latter has, unintentionally, also become part of the narrative which speaks for Palestinian rights. This, though, does not cancel out the fact that Palestinians are in their current predicament due to political decisions imposed upon their land and people.

UN resolutions have been futile because international consensus is primarily concerned with manufacturing and preserving Israel’s ability to act with impunity. This is what the US will not mention and which it has been gradually building upon, to the point that it now feels comfortable enough to offer an alternative “solution”. However, just as in the case of the two-state compromise, the only beneficiary will be Israel. This is why Greenblatt makes the point that an aspiration is not equivalent to a right, given that the plan is to create a bigger divide between Palestinians and their recourse for rights. It is a warning for Palestinians not to expect more.

Palestinian rights must be reclaimed from Palestinian narratives. Greenblatt’s calling out of the UN’s deficiencies does not elevate the US in any way. If the UN and the US are engrossed in providing solutions which benefit Israel, why is there still the expectation that Palestinians have to wait for proposals to affirm or reject? Palestine does not belong to the international community; this erroneous belief must be rectified to enable discourse and the implementation of Palestinian rights by the Palestinian people themselves. The international community, after all, recognised Israel and continues to defend it; hence the Palestinians’ obligation, first and foremost, is to turn inward, towards their people, their history and their collective memory, from where the anti-colonial struggle derives its legitimacy.

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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