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Funding the PA strengthens Israel’s colonial framework

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wearing a face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Ramallah, West Bank on 7 May 2020 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wearing a face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Ramallah, West Bank on 7 May 2020 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

Unsurprisingly, Israel’s decision to halt its annexation plans temporarily has been met with a resounding silence from the international community, rather than utilising the interlude to come up with a unified approach that holds Israel accountable for its open colonisation of Palestine.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority persists with its absurd yet dangerous spectacle, professing a purportedly defiant stance while capitulating to international demands regarding the two-state compromise. The EU’s funding of this charade and its willing political actors has simplified the process for two-state diplomacy. Conversely, the Palestinian people will bear the brunt of the consequences of decades-long political failure.

Speaking about the PA’s financial crisis and in turn illustrating its dependence on external financial support, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh insisted that a complete dissolution of ties with Israel was still on the agenda. “We are continuing with a total halt to ties with the occupation,” he declared, “and we will not allow it to blackmail us, and therefore we will not receive the clearance funds from this month.”

With security coordination, once deemed “sacred” by PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, regulating every aspect of Palestinian politics and society, the tax revenues collected on the PA’s behalf by Israel are no exception. Israel is insisting on it delivering the funds through such coordination which the PA has halted in retaliation for the forthcoming annexation.

PM: Palestinian government refused tax revenues from Israel

Stepping in to alleviate the PA’s financial deficit, the EU announced a €23 million contribution, allowing Ramallah the ability to pay reduced wages for Palestinian public employees working mostly in the health and education sectors.

If the EU and the PA refrain from misrepresenting the current political crisis as a financial setback, a different picture emerges of a decades-long compromise in which the international community funds the PA to play a role in maintaining the two-state compromise, while protecting Israel in the process. The EU has excelled in this strategy. By distancing Palestinian narratives from politics – the former solely serving the humanitarian enterprise – the EU is under no pressure to alter its stance, even when annexation, or the formalisation of colonial land grab, is imminent. Funding the PA does not create obstacles for Israel’s colonisation process, it actually strengthens Israel’s colonial framework. Furthermore, it creates the illusion of peacebuilding and Palestinian rights within the two-state framework.

The PA, meanwhile, seeks to frame its refusal to accept the tax revenues as an anti-colonial stance, even when its structure is heavily dependent upon the colonial framework. So far, it has not offered a coherent strategy that prioritises Palestinian rights and autonomy; EU funding is precisely about preventing such politics from emerging and the PA is an accommodating puppet. At a time when Palestinians are facing another visible round of internationally-forced displacement, the EU’s priority is to safeguard the PA’s existence. The blind acceptance of the EU’s financial aid for the PA as a pro-Palestinian endeavour needs to be challenged. Any trickle of benefits for Palestinians from EU funding is destroyed swiftly by Israel, while the peacebuilding illusion and the two-state framework provide Israel with the impunity to continue to colonise Palestine. As long as peacebuilding rhetoric exists, Israel remains safe from punitive measures.

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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