The Palestinian Authority’s diplomatic meetings with the US are a form of normalisation. In the last two years, the US has enabled Israel to fast-track its colonisation process, while Palestinians have been coerced into living the deterioration of their prospects and political rights.
On Tuesday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh met with US congress members in Ramallah to assure Israel’s ally that the Palestinian Authority “is not escaping from peace”. The US hardly needs any reassurance of PA acquiescence. Whether the PA defines peace through the two-state compromise or US President Donald Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” matters little to the US. Both frameworks are based on preserving Israel and the PA is the weakest interlocutor in the process, not least because of its dependency on external political actors for its survival.
However, the PA is lately exposing how much it depends on the cycle of violating Palestinians’ political rights, in order for its structure to remain relevant in the international arena. Since Trump took office, the PA has exploited each violation against the Palestinian people to build a new role for itself. Shtayyeh is revealing the PA’s tactics. Less blundering than the ramblings of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, Shtayyeh has alternated between statements that echo Palestinian demands and the bureaucratic travesty of pragmatism that is synonymous with the PA’s inherent surrender to Israel and the US.
In both instances, Shtayyeh is careful to insist upon “rights” – the only word in his rhetoric that bridges the gap between his statements – at face value. When the PA speaks of rights, it is merely utilising the concept to frame its political standing according to what the international community demands. Which is why Shtayyeh can speak of rights and pursuing relations with the US in one brief statement following the meeting in Ramallah: “I stressed that we want relations between the US and Palestine to be independent from Israel – and that we are committed to peace towards realising Palestine’s legitimate rights.”
Peace as enforced by the international community does not bestow a fraction of legitimate Palestinian political rights. It only ties Palestinians to a process that phases their gradual destruction of rights, while leaders fail to even address the immediate consequences of their collective actions. The UN’s insistence on the two-state compromise, which contributed to the displacement of Palestinians, for example, has disregarded the collective accountability of forcing an unviable option upon the indigenous population. It merely calls on Israel to halt settlement expansion while updating its statistical data on forced displacement.
The US will be no exception to the international community’s trend. Its financial contributions to Israel, as well as the current administration’s rush to bestow legitimacy upon Israeli violations, make it a prime facilitator of Israel’s colonial process. Shtayyeh knows that diplomacy, or the absence of it, between Palestine and the US is subjected to Israeli demands. Given that the US has all but eliminated any possibilities of Palestinian participation in negotiations, the PA’s comments can only indicate that, away from the media spotlight, forms of collaboration with the US and Israel are ongoing, if only to keep up the charade of negotiations for “peace”.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.