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Greenblatt’s ‘conflict’ discourse erases Palestinian narratives

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets with US President's envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt (L) in Jerusalem on 21 June 2017 [Handout / Amos Ben Gershom / GPO]
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets with US President's envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt (L) in Jerusalem on 21 June 2017 [Handout / Amos Ben Gershom / GPO]

US conspiracies against Palestine and the Palestinian people are allegedly for their benefit. In the words of outgoing US Middle East Envoy Jason Greenblatt though, with reference to all the unilateral decisions announced and acted upon by US President Donald Trump, “We made those decisions because they are the right decisions for the United States.” And the obvious advantages for Israel? It’s just “conflation.” according to Greenblatt.

Yet Greenblatt also said that one of his roles, apart from bringing Arab states closer to normalisation with Israel, was to “be out there changing the conversation about the conflict.” His whole discourse about the “conflict” erases Palestinian narratives. In the end, who benefits from the promotion of Israel’s colonial narratives, which already form the foundations upon which the US and the rest of the international community base their hypothesis of alleged peace and negotiations? Israel, of course.

There is no conflation in the obvious fact that the US under Trump has acted overtly and solely in Israel’s interests. With the Palestinian Authority being the weakest pawn in the process, grovelling to an intentionally inactive international community, as well as the swiftness with which the US dealt Palestinians one blow after another while exploiting refugees in the process, Israel has benefited from Washington’s political endorsement of its colonial expansion. Moreover, Israel knows that the selective criticism levelled of its actions will not obstruct its plans.

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“If we did not make these decisions,” Greenblatt stated, “we would not be closer to peace.” Yet there can be no peace in the annihilation of Palestinian collective memory and political rights. Palestinians are under no illusion that the US is striving for peace; that a “peace process” actually exists. However, the PA has contributed to the distortion of the Palestinian cause by prevailing in its subservience to the international community. Hence, it is also pertinent to ponder how the international community, alongside Israel, paved the way for the US to enforce the next step of Palestine’s conversion to a self-declared “Jewish state”.

The broken systems that Greenblatt spoke about – he mentioned UNRWA specifically– are products of an international community absorbed in human rights rhetoric while remaining silent in the face of human rights violations. There is no protection of human rights at an international level, only the preservation of institutions. Defunding UNRWA, therefore, is another step in maintaining the humanitarian project constructed by the international community for Palestinians and which is now being exploited by the US and Israel to eliminate the refugees’ legitimate right of return, refugee claims and refugee narratives.

If, as Greenblatt says, “peace can only be built on truth,” then peace must be built on Palestinian narratives and history; on Palestinian “truth”. From decades of colonialism to UN resolutions and the two frameworks for purported peace, there can be no doubt about the collusion between the US and the international community to force a perception of Palestinians as being irrelevant to their own political rights and future. Allowing Israel to prevail in its colonial violence and displacement of Palestinians while simultaneously insisting upon its supremacy when it comes to negotiations is unequivocally an endorsement by the US and the international community of the removal of Palestinian narratives from the equation, along with the Palestinian people themselves.

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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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