The Palestinian Authority’s promotion of its disengagement from Israel’s military occupation is mostly diplomatic jargon tied yet again to the two-state compromise. Whatever inference to resistance Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh may impart, the underlying reality is that the PA remains beholden to the powers-that-be in order to secure its own existence.
Speaking at Al-Far’aa refugee camp near Tubas, Shtayyeh declared, “Efforts made in the field of popular resistance demonstrate that we have one map based on a bilateral strategy: the [Israeli] occupation should remain uncomfortable, and it [Israel] has to pay a price for its occupation.”
Yet the Palestinian people continue paying that price. Shtayyeh’s political office is a far cry from that of Palestinians in refugee camps. The1948 Nakba affected all Palestinians in terms of dispossession, but the PA’s corruption has allowed it to rise – albeit supported by entities which would not hesitate to hasten its demise if political opportunity deemed it necessary – above the dependency cycle that locks the people of Palestine into a struggle for basic necessities as opposed to legitimate rights.
During a meeting with Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), Shtayyeh reportedly asked the EU to boycott settlement products to “force Israel to comply with international law.” Such a step would make the EU “consistent with the approach supporting the two-state solution.” Clearly, the concern over Israel’s settlement expansion and products has nothing to do with Palestinian rights, from the PA’s approach. On the contrary, the plea is for diplomats to keep shifting attention away from Palestinians’ political rights by keeping the two-state paradigm in the spotlight.
In between these conflicting statements to Palestinian refugees and European politicians, the PA knows that its illusory stance holds no credibility. Disengagement from Israel still leaves Shtayyeh at the mercy of Arab states and the latter have, for the most part, prioritised their relations with Israel over the legitimate Palestinian struggle.
In addition, the PA’s economic disengagement from Israel is just one façade which shifts attention away from the fact that its existence is an extension of Israel’s colonial violence. Security for Palestinians, in terms of politics and rights, remains non-existent as the PA refuses to function independently of Israel and its donors, notably the EU. With Israel and the EU enjoying profitable trade relations, the PA’s pleas are just intermittent recollections of what it should espouse, as ordained by diplomatic routine.
The Oslo Accords laid down the discriminatory terms for the Palestinian people and the PA became Israel’s representative in the occupied West Bank through the reviled security coordination which PA President Mahmoud Abbas has called “sacred” on several occasions. How far would disengagement with Israel go when the EU has financed such coordination with Israel since 2006?
Will the PA even approach the possibility of political disengagement from Israel? It’s highly unlikely, given that it still has a role to play in maintaining the fallacy of representing a hypothetical state; the latter is necessary for international foreign policy to retain a firm hold over the depletion of Palestinian rights. Meanwhile, the PA will continue its trend of separate discourses for Palestinians and the international community, yet both will continue to affirm its allegiance to, and dependency on, the occupation state of Israel. The PA’s disengagement rhetoric really is farcical.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.