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The PA’s pro-EU diplomacy merely serves its self-preservation

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh leads the weekly cabinet meeting which is held in Jordan valley, in West Bank on 16 September 2019. [Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency]
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh leads the weekly cabinet meeting in the West Bank on 16 September 2019 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

After declaring an end to all agreements with Israel and the US, the Palestinian Authority is struggling to chart an alternative diplomatic path. While Israel has set a date for the forthcoming annexation of the occupied West Bank, the PA is still calling for international conferences and recognition of the State of Palestine. The latter means little apart from it being the most prominent symbolic gesture bestowed by members of the international community.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh’s remarks during a meeting with EU diplomatic representatives indicates a strategy for political survival, similar to what has been orchestrated prior to Israel’s annexation plans. The difference is that this time, the PA appears to have taken a belated decision which, at least for the short term, allows it an opportunity to present itself as having severed ties with Israel.

However, the PA has no autonomy to call for decolonisation and its first preoccupation is to sustain itself politically and financially. The only possible strategy at the moment, therefore, is to present itself to the EU as a body dedicated to disseminating European diplomacy. As Shtayyeh declared during the meeting, “We assure you that we are committed to reaching a political solution that enjoys national, regional and international support.”

READ: The world must halt Israel’s annexation and reverse its colonisation of Palestine

In return for the PA’s dedication to the two-state compromise, which forms the bulwark of the EU’s peacebuilding politics, the authority seeks to ensure that the bloc’s financial support will continue. “We highly value the political and financial support and the European solidarity with Palestine, as well as Europe’s rejection of the Israeli annexation plan,” said Shtayyeh.

The Prime Minister’s approach to Israeli annexation is repetitive and follows the same discourse that the PA and the international community have reserved for all Israeli violations of international law. As on other occasions, he fails to take note that annexation is the result of decades of Israel’s internationally supported settler-colonialism in Palestine. Dependence upon the international community for financial aid is the main impediment to independence; the PA is now attempting to retain financial assistance while keeping up the appearances of a political entity purportedly pursuing a different strategy. The contradiction is palpable. To secure financial assistance, the PA has no option but to maintain its role as the promoter of EU diplomacy in Palestine.

All the PA is currently asking is that the EU recognises Palestine as a state, a move which has been contemplated but never acted upon and which holds little political significance when the entire international narrative is biased towards Israeli colonisation.

Annexation is Israel’s latest move to lacerate Palestinian territory even further. The two-state compromise carries with it the complicity of the international community and the PA’s subjugation. In 1947, the UN Partition Plan determined that Palestine would become a Zionist colonial experiment and an international commodity in terms of diplomacy.

The PA is showing no signs of wanting to eradicate these prevailing narratives. Through its passive and complicit role so far, it has accommodated both intentions of the Partition Plan. On the verge of Palestinians losing all of Palestine, the PA’s overtures to the EU merely serve to illustrate its concern with self-preservation rather than national self-determination.

READ: The PA has no political strategy to counter US-Israeli annexation plans

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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