The Zionist erasure of Palestinians from their landscape is no longer contested in the international arena. The dispossession of Palestinians is treated as a historical fact removed from their legitimate right of return and ongoing human rights violations. Flawed as only the UN could conspire to be, the preservation of Israel is the priority. The latter is now dissociated from the ethnic cleansing of Palestine which required a UN resolution in the first place. The international organisation has been complicit since day one.
Israel and the US are all for continuing the forced disappearance of Palestinians. In his latest interview with Israel National News, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman stated that the so-called deal of the century will ensure the permanence of Israeli settlers. Citing the evacuation of Gaza in 2005, Friedman stated, “I don’t believe that there is a realistic plan that can be implemented that will require anyone, Jew or Arab, to be forced to leave their home.”
This statement has an inbuilt contradiction – after all, Jewish settlements require Palestinian dispossession in order to exist – and was followed by an equally hypocritical reflection by Friedman: “It’s frankly an inhumane process, speaking about Jews or Arabs.” Yet, his elaboration on the issue is clear; it is the “extreme adverse reaction among Israelis” which Friedman is concerned about, not the ongoing displacement of Palestinians to make space for more settler-colonists. It is clear that, far from being “inhumane”, evicting settlers would be a form of justice for the Palestinians.
It is necessary to mention that the settlements are deemed illegal and a war crime under international law. That, though, is just one component of the issue which also makes for convenient discourse among the complacent international actors. Dealing with an illegality which the international community has no intention of reversing is the outcome of the same international community’s refusal to uphold the Palestinians’ right to return against the establishment of Israel’s colonial presence in Palestine.
The Palestinian Authority and the international community have failed consistently to link settlement expansion with Israel’s creation in historic Palestine. Both have legitimised the earlier expansion and, as a result, created even more distinctions between Palestinians, despite their shared history of dispossession.
Friedman’s sweeping statement regarding the inhumanity of “uprooting” settlers has no moral justification. The complicity between the Israeli state and its settler population must be highlighted, in particular their dependency on each other to survive. Israel’s colonial project is inherently inhumane; any ramifications which settlers experience cannot be portrayed as equivalent to Palestinian dispossession. Settler participation in maintaining Israeli colonialism is complicit in creating a permanent refugee problem among Palestinians, one which can only be solved if decolonisation and the Palestinian right of return from a refugee perspective are implemented.
It is inhumane to colonise a territory and ethnically cleanse its population, as Israel did to the Palestinians. Undoubtedly, however, the international community will legitimise Friedman’s aberration of a comment, first through its silence, and later by prioritising settler permanence over Palestinian dispossession, depending on how the deal of the century actually pans out.
The current international discourse is, therefore, incorrectly focused; it aids Israel’s colonisation of Palestine. It also reassures the US that, despite the divergences over the two-state compromise, there is no friction as regards the ultimate aim of eliminating Palestinians from their land through displacement and normalisation of the US-Israeli plan to reject the legal parameters of who is and is not a Palestinian refugee. Palestinians must retain their own narrative, while settlers should be in a perpetual spotlight that highlights their wilful complicity in aiding Israel to keep up the displacement momentum — the ethnic cleansing — that it started in 1948.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.