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The Palestinians are caught between ‘waiting’ and ‘the possibility’ of annexation

August 4, 2020 at 7:42 pm

Former Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini shake hands during a press conference at the European Council in Brussels on December 11, 2017 [EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images]

While the Palestine Liberation Organisation has been calling upon the EU to step up from rhetoric to action regarding Israel’s forthcoming annexation of occupied West Bank territory, Europe’s Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell invited Israeli Defence Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to Brussels to meet with the bloc’s foreign ministers.

“While the international community is concerned with the ‘possibility’ of annexation,” said PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi, “Israel is implementing its annexation scheme on the ground without any deterrence.” Israeli plans for further construction in East Jerusalem prompted Ashrawi’s comments, as EU politicians adopt activist tactics by abandoning their power to act both morally and politically and opting instead to write a “protest letter” to Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

It would be perplexing to come to terms with the fact that such dismissive attitudes towards Palestinians and Palestine are not properly rejected by the Palestinian Authority, were it not for the fact that the PA itself is enamoured of futile pleas in place of political action.

The EU, meanwhile, is not adopting condescending attitudes towards Israel and its annexation plans. In his phone call with Ashkenazi, Borrell reiterated the EU’s “unequivocal commitment” to Israel’s security, which he described as “not negotiable for the EU”.

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Ashkenazi’s accusation of EU “megaphone diplomacy” is thus a sham. That type of diplomacy is reserved for Palestinians, encouraged as it is by the PA’s accommodating collaboration. The Israeli official made his comment in May, when Borrell declared that the EU “looks forward to continue working with the new Israeli government in a constructive and comprehensive way.” In other words, the EU will ensure that if Israel wants to build further settlements to normalise the forthcoming annexation, it will stand by Israel in the name of its (entirely fake) security narrative.

If the EU truly wanted to put a stop to annexation, Ashkenazi would have been invited to a meeting in which EU foreign ministers would outline action to be taken against Israel. As Ashrawi succinctly asserted, though, the EU thrives upon possibility, and so does Israel, which makes the bloc and the colonial presence in Palestine diplomatic allies working in tandem.

The EU knows that waiting, as the international community tells Palestinians to do constantly, has led to a near-irreversible situation. International diplomacy has normalised delays, to the point that they are now permissible political actions undertaken by powerful countries against states and populations concerned with accessing and implementing their legitimate political and legal rights. Hence, writing a protest letter to Israel’s Foreign Ministry is lauded as action, despite the disparity in the EU’s diplomatic relations with Israel and the PA. Making headlines in Israeli media, after all, conveys Israeli displeasure and the illusion of action. And nothing else matters, as far as Israel and the EU are concerned.

Take away the two-state compromise from international diplomacy and the EU’s peacebuilding narrative, and the Palestinians will, at least, have a voice that is not tainted by external impositions. If Israel’s colonial narrative was adopted willingly internationally, there is no reason why the Palestinian leadership should not prioritise and maintain Palestinian narratives. However, the issue of PA compromise, even with “waiting”, remains, and Palestinian efforts at diplomacy are merely mirrored by ineffective tactics employed by the EU.

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The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.