Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been trading the same rhetoric about not having a suitable partner for diplomatic negotiations. The senior adviser and spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, recently took the statement further to again assert the PA’s distaste for legitimate armed resistance. This was his attempt to reassure Israel about the PA’s commitment to remain tethered to failed diplomacy.
“The Palestinians do not want violence and it is very important for us that the Israelis know this and understand that our path is not violent,” Abu Rudeineh told Israeli political correspondents. Why would the PA seek to reassure the colonial presence in Palestine built and maintained upon violence that the colonised population are not seeking to use violent measures to escape from the Israeli yoke?
Unlike Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population and other measures such as its colonial settlement expansion, which are clearly defined as war crimes by international law, Palestinian resistance against the colonial violence of occupation is entirely legitimate. Abu Rudeineh is doing Palestinians yet another disservice by refusing to recognise the whole spectrum of the anti-colonial struggle. Furthermore, the PA does not differentiate between various forms of violence, which are defined by context.
It is the Palestinians who should be seeking reassurances that no further violence will be inflicted upon them. However, the normalisation of Israeli violence, combined with the diplomacy which allows Israel to function as a violent colonial state, prevent Palestinians from making such demands.
What’s more, Palestinians are not guaranteed protection from Israeli violence; their rights are simply brushed aside. To make matters worse, Abu Rudeineh has eliminated this factor in his discussions regarding future “peace negotiations” to enable the façade of Israel’s “victim” status to be preserved. In keeping with the parameters set by the international community’s endorsement of Israel’s false “security” and “self-defence” narrative, Abbas’s spokesman is misrepresenting the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle and, as a result, regaling Israel with further opportunities to portray itself as the only democratic partner in negotiations. The PA would do well to remember that such talks would not have been necessary if the UN had taken the necessary steps to halt the earlier settler-colonial presence in Palestine and thus prevented Israel from manifesting itself on ethnically-cleansed Palestinian land.
However, the PA is merely absorbing the external narratives imposed by the international community on one hand, and the US on the other, the latter through its so-called “deal of the century”. The constant definition of the Palestinians according to external agendas have damaged the Palestinian cause beyond recognition.
Non-violent resistance and diplomacy have been manufactured by the international community as acceptable paths for Palestinians precisely because, on their own, they fragment the efficacy of anti-colonial struggle. The right to resist colonialism by all means is legitimate, whether diplomatic negotiations are taking place, or might be taking place in the future. Neither the international community nor the PA have the right to prevent Palestinians from exercising their right to armed struggle. It is a decision that must be made by the people themselves, since the Palestinian leadership has long abandoned the Palestinian cause to curry favour with the international community for its own self-serving hierarchy.
There is no need to reassure Israel as Abu Rudeineh has done; the only reminder that Israel needs is that Palestinians have every right to reclaim their land. Beyond that assurance, the PA’s rhetoric must be seen for what it is; an additional means of destroying the Palestinian struggle, for the benefit of Israel and the international community.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.