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The PA and the UN should stop their complicity in Israel’s colonial violence

October 12, 2022 at 1:41 pm

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas addresses during the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at UN Headquarters in New York, United States on September 23, 2022. [Palestinian Presidency – Anadolu Agency]

Calling upon the UN to protect Palestinian civilians from Israeli violence is not effective diplomacy on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. A recent letter by the PA’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates to the UN summarised Israel’s targeting of Palestinian children since the beginning of this year, while regurgitating the basics of human rights which the international institution routinely ignores, true to its being beholden to its colonial history and current complicity with Israel’s colonial violence.

“Israel deliberately targets Palestinian children and minors with the stated aim of killing and maiming them, thus, denying them their right to life. Children must never be killed or maimed.  The State of Palestine warns that Israel’s escalating crimes and deliberate targeting of Palestinian children will continue unabatedly and exponentially if accountability is not urgently and effectively pursued,” the letter partly read.

The PA has called for international protection of Palestinians on several occasions. Besides knowing that the UN will never acquiesce to such a legitimate demand, the fact remains that the PA is consistently attempting to prove its commitment to international norms by begging an institution that helped shape Israel’s colonial existence. Such diplomatic ventures portray, not only the fact that the PA is unable to protect Palestinian civilians from Israeli violence, its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, considers security coordination as sacred. And while Israel’s “shoot to kill” policy is to blame for the recent wave of killings of Palestinian civilians, including minors, the PA cannot claim it holds the protection of Palestinians as imperative. Secondly, the PA continues to shape the fate of Palestinian civilians by resorting to futile requests to an international body that supports Israel’s security narrative. Between the PA and the UN, both committed to Israel’s security in different ways, Palestinians are constantly unprotected, subject to violence and pawns in the game of colonisation under the guise of the two-state compromise.

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Both the PA and the UN know that Israel’s targeting of Palestinian civilians, including children, is against international law. What is implicit in the PA calling for international protection is the knowledge that such pleas will never be heeded which, in turn, generates further impunity for Israel. It is not only the killings that stand out as an international law violation, but the very fact that the PA and the UN, both of which bear different responsibilities in terms of protection, have ushered in a dynamic of exception for Israel’s violence, because colonialism is eliminated from requests and condemnations.

Israel is a colonial power; its structure is inherently violent and there are decades of atrocities as testimony. To merely classify the killings of Palestinian civilians as violations of international law is to normalise an entity that has been forcibly eliminating the Palestinian population from their land, either through displacement or annihilation. If the PA and the UN were not so complicit in Israel’s colonial expansion, Palestinian civilians would not be viewed as collateral damage. Acknowledging Israel’s colonial violence would also require acknowledging the Palestinians’ legitimate right to anti-colonial resistance. It would also recognise Palestinians as politically active and relevant to their history and current predicaments. Next time the PA decides to write another useless plea just for the sake of diplomatic action, it ought to consider how its own political complicity with Israel and the international community plays a part in this murderous script.

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