The UN has mastered the art of dissociating itself from colonisation, especially that which it has supported through international consensus. Former UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, who in 2019 blamed Palestinians for Israel's aggression against Gaza, has left his post with a parting message that illustrates how Palestine is an international project and one that endorses a false equivalence which can only work to Israel's benefit.
In recent years, which some have attributed to outgoing US President Donald Trump's distancing his administration from the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinians have been largely excluded from the international community. The blame for this gradual invisibility, however, lies with the UN's politics in terms of dealing with Palestine. The more that Israel and its settler-colonialism are normalised, the less time that international diplomacy spends on Palestine. Since the 1947 Partition Plan, the international community has utilised this strategy, which Trump exposed and, in his usual belligerent way, used to pivot additional advantages towards Israel.
Now the world speaks of normalisation of relations with Israel, and the Palestinians are forgotten even more. Unless, that is, some periodic reminders of the two-state compromise are due, at which time the UN will conveniently remember its duty; only to the paradigm, though, not the people.
Mladenov's musings expose the importance of the two-state solution in terms of diplomacy. There is not one single mention of colonisation, which he calls "the one-State reality". Instead, Mladenov asserts that the international community will not question the repercussions, let alone the feasibility, of the two-state compromise. "No one in the international community has questioned the foundation that any resolution of the conflict must be based on two-States," he wrote. Of course, no one will, unless the UN is willing to call into question its own 1947 Partition Plan.
For an organisation that can get away with any violation of human rights because it is not subject to scrutiny by any other independent body, Mladenov's admission carried a lot of weight. The two-state paradigm has been exploited by Israel to advance its colonial expansion, which Mladenov refers to indirectly in terms of what Palestinians think. Still, there is no implication by him that the international community is complicit in Israel's theft of Palestinian land. If UN officials can get away with attributing truth to mere thought, then the two-state compromise can withstand this. And the UN is free to misrepresent Israeli settler-colonialism as "a conflict over the very right of two nations to exist," as Mladenov claims.
Notably, he has normalised the Abraham Accords, despite them being detrimental to the Palestinian people, calling upon the international community "to build on the new opportunities created" by the normalisation deals with the UAE and Bahrain. The whole world is glad to see Trump's political demise, but no leader or international institution will attempt to overturn his poisonous legacy.
UN diplomacy regarding Palestine has been outlined succinctly. There will not be any veering away from the two-state paradigm, with which the Palestinian people are forced to contend. Furthermore, the international community's endorsement of normalising relations with Israel means that Palestinians will have no opportunity to object to the two-state compromise being subject to Trump's legacy.
For decades, the UN has failed to abide by international norms, which it abdicated in favour of Israel's demands. Over the past four years, moreover, the UN has merely positioned itself as a spectator as the US and Israel sought to marginalise Palestinian visibility. With Trump gone, and the US ostensibly back into the fold in terms of mainstream reckoning — it never really went away in any case — the UN is now ready to participate in a more diluted two-state diplomacy, which will be determined by the normalisation of Israel's annexation agenda and yet more colonisation of Palestine.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.