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Courting Israel with silence and impunity

Israeli forces demolish a house belonging to Palestinian family in Hebron, West Bank on 3 February 2021 [Mamoun Wazwaz/Anadolu Agency]
Israeli forces demolish a house belonging to Palestinian family in Hebron, West Bank on 3 February 2021 [Mamoun Wazwaz/Anadolu Agency]

Last year, the Palestinian Authority attempted, in the wrong way as usual, to get the international community to act upon Israel's colonial expansion by stating that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was availing himself of the last months of the Trump administration. The illusion of a restricted timeframe in which Israel would attempt the ultimate land-grab was shattered by the latest report indicating an increasing number of Israeli demolitions of EU funded structures.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OCHA) reported that Israel demolished a total of 153 Palestinian structures, displacing 305 people and affecting 435 others in terms of livelihood. The report notes: "So far in 2021, the monthly average of structures targeted (117) represents a 65 per cent increase compared with the monthly average in 2020 (71)."

It would have been better for the PA to speak of an ongoing expansion tied to the suspended annexation plans, which also reflect the concept of "Greater Israel". Just because the UN does not make the connection between annexation and the early Zionist colonisation plans, does not mean the PA should abdicate its responsibility in this regard, or frame expansion solely against the Trump administration's unilateral decisions.

US lawmakers have written to President Joe Biden, urging him to investigate Israel's use of American equipment in the demolitions of Palestinian structures. The letter also notes the contradiction between Biden's opposition to annexation and the silence over Israel's ongoing demolition of Palestinian homes, reminding the administration of the ultimate de-facto annexation that is occurring away from the international community's scrutiny.

READ: Jerusalem municipality rejects alternatives to Palestinian home demolitions

The PA's Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, Fadi Al-Hidmi, has not fared any better than other PA officials in his criticism of the ongoing demolitions, calling upon the international community to do what it has always done, which is nothing. "What is taking place is a systematic programmed process of replacing the Palestinians expelled from their land and property with foreign settlers," Al-Hidmi stated, while calling upon the UN to intervene and pressure Israel to stop the demolitions. Meanwhile, Israel is planning on an additional 100 demolitions in Silwan, which would displace 1,550 Palestinian civilians, and the international community is still silent. As long as annexation is not formalised, the UN feels less of an obligation to intervene rhetorically.

The Palestinian Human Rights Council (PHRC) has written to the UN Special Rapporteurs to bring attention to the Israeli crimes of forced transfer and settlement expansion, designated a war crime by the International Criminal Court (ICC). In its recommendations, the PHRC called upon the UN to bring to an end "Israel's occupation, colonisation, and apartheid regime, as well as the prolonged denial of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, and the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their homes, lands, and property, as mandated by international law."

Problem is, the international community approaches Palestine, or what is left of it, from the defunct two-state compromise, which fails to acknowledge the basics of colonisation. So what are the chances of the UN taking a step further than belated ramblings about stopping Israeli settlement expansion?

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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