If elected again, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, and the international community is scrambling to issue statements pointing out that such a move would have no legal effect. For Israel, of course, such warnings are not disconcerting. Neither are the warnings that annexation “undermine the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace,” as the EU dutifully echoed without as much as a warning on accountability.
Meanwhile, in a meeting in Ramallah with Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas said he would end all agreements with Israel if Netanyahu followed through on annexation. Needless to say, Abbas commended the EU for warning that such a move would “destroy the foundations of the political process.”
Israel is, of course, in contempt of such warnings. Far from any concern for Palestinians, the international community is preoccupied with how to salvage the remnants of its diplomacy and influence in the colonisation of Palestine, while maintaining a purported support for Palestinians and the state-building illusion. It is no secret that the PA has provided undeterred assistance in the latter – maintaining the illusion of a state safeguards its precarious existence after all.
But annexation and Israel’s expansion should not be overshadowed by international diplomacy or Abbas’ blundering statements. Neither should Netanyahu’s announcement be restricted to the electoral campaign. In his belligerence, US President Donald Trump has exposed the hypocrisy of the international community, as well as that of the US. Without consensus on how to stop Israel from violating international law, Netanyahu is availing himself of the opportunities to colonise additional Palestinian territory. Predictably, the international community is more concerned with pointing out how the parameters of international law are being transgressed, rather than protecting the Palestinian people’s political rights.
Netanyahu has announced the legalisation of a settlement outpost in the Jordan Valley, declaring it “a step towards the application of sovereignty.”
How does the international community think it can maintain the relevance of international law, and its own institutions, when it persists in maintaining the discrepancy between human rights rhetoric and a tangible application of legislation? If international law remains tethered to referencing, the international community is allowing Israel to experiment with its interpretation, while expecting the Palestinian people to adhere to an interpretation of international law that reprimands Israel while offering no protection for the colonised.
International leniency towards Israel is an asset which Netanyahu recognises – the decision to annex parts of the occupied West Bank was described as “a gradual process”.
Conversely, the PA has acquiesced to a gradual process which dispossessed Palestinians. While Netanyahu violated international law to colonise Palestine with increasing impunity, the PA waited to respond to violations, thus weakening even its own standing in the international community and, even worse, throttling Palestinian options for legitimate resistance.
For Abbas, the two-state illusion takes priority over Palestinian lives and land. This is not the first land theft by Israel; Palestinians have become synonymous with forced displacement and the imposed refugee status. Out of concern for their agenda, the international community has performed its perfunctory duty. For Abbas and the PA, Netanyahu’s annexation announcement provided another brief publicity stint in pretending to uphold the Palestinian right to liberation.
Away from this cruel charade, has any political puppet remembered the Palestinians?
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.