During each major Israeli offensive against Gaza, the Palestinian Authority is careful not to antagonise the settler-colonial state with its rhetoric. Its sights are perpetually set on the aftermath, particularly rebuilding Gaza and how much of a prominent role — and aid money — it can take in the process. Perhaps it is only at such times that the PA feels relevant internationally, knowing full well that donors are never keen to engage with Hamas in reconstruction and bolstered by the predictable outcome, which sees diplomats calling, albeit temporarily, for PA involvement in Gaza.
PA leader Mahmoud Abbas has been eager to assert his authority during meetings in Egypt to discuss Gaza’s reconstruction, stating that Ramallah must be involved in the process. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh met with the EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, Sven Koopmans, and insisted upon an international guarantee that Israel will not carry out further aggression against the enclave. Shtayyeh also requested the EU to revive diplomatic negotiations, turning once again to the clearly moribund two-state compromise.
None of Shtayyeh’s repetitive pleas to the international community have ever served as a deterrent against bombardment of the Gaza Strip. So careful is the PA not to oppose Israel, that it continues regurgitating the same futile requests. In doing so it spells out the leadership’s acquiescence to Israel’s colonial violence and expansion.
Moreover, the PA has contributed to the distinction between the occupied West Bank and Gaza in its bid to restrict Hamas. It’s a move of which the international community approves and which will play a greater role in the aftermath of the bombing, as reconstruction becomes another battleground for political influence.
Shtayyeh’s request for international guarantees against Israeli aggression does not arise out of any concern for ordinary Palestinians, but rather diplomatic defeat. The PA’s refusal to help Palestinians is rooted in its inability to defend them, an intricate aspect of the structure that bolsters the authority while refusing to let it have any autonomy. To put it succinctly, the PA’s requests signify the illusion of political power.The international community, on the other hand, is not in a position to dictate to Israel what it should do, because it is deeply complicit in the colonisation process. Leaving the rhetoric of international law and human rights aside, the UN serves political interests while hiding behind a rights agenda. The latter is the veneer to which Palestinians have been shackled for decades, in order to deprive the people from accessing and participating in the political processes which could influence alternatives to the two-state “solution” and, as a result, bring about accountability for Israel’s colonial violence.
International guarantees will never have any meaning unless Israel is held accountable, and the settler-colonial enterprise will never be held accountable unless the two-state compromise is scrapped for an alternative that is both Palestinian and focused on decolonisation. Furthermore, it doesn’t seem to have occurred to the PA that Palestinians require guarantees from their leadership that their land is not going to be squandered by further concessions rooted in “two-states”. The PA may dissociate between these issues but the Palestinian people do not. Far from restoring any degree of credibility, Shtayyeh and Abbas have simply revealed themselves as failed representatives of the people they are failing to protect in any way whatsoever.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.