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A return to the two-state politics without a historical reckoning spells loss for Palestinians

January 28, 2021 at 1:30 pm

A picture taken on February 23, 2017 shows a billboard, of unknown origin, on a main road leading to the West Bank city of Ramallah, reading in Arabic: ‘If the choice is between one state or two states, then I am choosing the one state’ [ABBAS MOMANI/AFP via Getty Images]

US President Joe Biden announced the restoring of diplomatic relations with the Palestinian Authority and the resumption of humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people, in a bid to bring the country back to international consensus after the Trump administration pursued a different form of diplomatic relations which culminated in the Abraham Accords.

According to Acting US Ambassador to the UN, Richard Mills, the move guarantees “the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish state while upholding the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for a state of their own.”

Of course, the prevailing discrepancy remains. The US will support “the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for a state” but that is as far as it will go. The “legitimate aspirations” will play a bigger role  in the forthcoming process where the two-state compromise will return to its pedestal.

Re-engaging the PA will be a trivial deed. Isolated as he is, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the US election result as an opportunity to act in oblivion of what the Trump administration achieved. Yet the previous tenure has reaped benefits for Israel which the current US presidency will be unwilling to revoke. Upon what foundations will the US-PA dialogue happen? Abbas, for sure, will have no say in determining any pre-conditions. Having already stated his disposition to re-engage diplomatically with the US, upon the basis of Trump’s departure and not the rescinding of policies which resulted in further territorial loss, Abbas will still be at a disadvantage.

READ: The US and Israel are changing the narrative on Palestine through Trump’s legacy 

What does the future look like for Palestine? - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

What does the future look like for Palestine? – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The prevailing narrative following the announcement is too simplistic. Trump is still perceived as the architect of all that the Palestinians lost, without a historical narrative to accompany what the previous administration achieved for Israel. Losing sight of what the Zionist colonial project set out to achieve in the first place also marginalises the earlier steps taken by the international community – the US included – which enabled former US President Donald Trump to accelerate colonisation in a mere four years.

Restoring diplomatic relations is an easy feat, just as much as cutting ties was, especially when the political entity that was marginalised has no real legitimacy, or power, except that funded and bestowed by the international community.

Trump veered from international consensus, but it must be said that the international community did not actively oppose his policies. The UN welcomed the normalisation agreements, in particular as they shifted attention towards dynamics that have been already implemented by the international community. Annexation, on the other hand, put the UN in a difficult position, in terms of how to tacitly accept the next colonial step while keeping up the façade of staying in line with international law.

Biden’s win sealed the dilemma. Getting back to the two-state consensus required no effort, particularly when the current administration is under no pressure to revoke the most damaging policies targeting Palestinian land.

In the end, the change in US policy is about the US, and not the Palestinian people. The PA plays along because it has no other option, not even the endorsement of the Palestinian people in terms of legitimate representation. And as long as the PA aspires for, rather than politicises, the Palestinian state, it matters little to the US or the international community which parameters are pursued, as long as these remain within the illusions that promote the theft of Palestine.

READ: Israel is an apartheid state, says B’Tselem; time to ditch the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism? 

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