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Away from the rhetoric, where is European support for Palestine?

January 3, 2023 at 4:39 pm

A general view of the hall during The United Nations General Assembly voting in New York, United States [Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu Agency]

In keeping with his new government’s policy statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the UN General Assembly vote on a resolution about “Israeli practices and settlement activities affecting the rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories”. According to Netanyahu, “The Jewish nation is not an occupier in its own land and its own eternal capital, Jerusalem.”

The facts contradict Netanyahu’s assertion, but many countries have preferred to turn a blind eye to his Zionist myths. Thus, while the resolution can be considered yet another symbolic victory, Israel continues to make gains in terms of its ability to act with impunity.

Not only did fewer countries vote in favour of the resolution compared with the preliminary vote in November, but also several European countries abstained or voted against, sending a strong message of their hypocrisy to the Palestinians. The vote was far more honest than the rhetoric, given that not all European countries recognise Palestine. For a continent that professes support for Palestinian rights, the vote demonstrated the reverse and reflected the prevailing attitude that forces the Palestinian people to remain tethered to a humanitarian project, fuelled by Israel’s war crimes and human rights violations.

Europe’s support for Palestine cannot be counted upon. For all the rhetoric about democracy, European countries exhibit their partiality towards Israel’s settler-colonial expansion, as evidenced at the UN General Assembly. As the International Court of Justice could potentially declare Israel an apartheid state through a binding ruling, it is clear that several European countries preferred to steer clear of taking a stand, thus ensuring that the ruling will not have any meaningful impact on Israel.

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Nevertheless, Palestine’s UN Representative, Riyad Mansour, welcomed the vote. “We trust that, regardless of your vote today, if you believe in international law and peace you will uphold the opinion of the International Court of Justice when delivered and you will stand up to this Israeli government right now because freedom, justice and peace shall prevail,” he said.

Israel may be worried about any forthcoming ICJ ruling. However, had the Palestinian Authority not been so embroiled in corruption and collaboration with settler colonialism, it would have realised that there is much to ponder over the discrepancy between the rhetorical support that European countries express towards Palestine, and their tangible veering towards Israel’s colonial violence. Which European country is going to stand up to the Israeli government, if Europe’s main concern is its diplomatic standing with Israel?

Mansour cannot simply dismiss the UN vote, as he did when stating “regardless of your vote today”. Unless European countries alter their diplomacy, the UN General Assembly vote is reflective of their political standing. Palestinians do not need yet more platitudes that generalise and undermine the violations of their legitimate rights, least of all by any Palestinian representative. If the PA was less of an accomplice of settler-colonialism, it could have at least lobbied with conviction with regard to the political rights of the Palestinian people. The PA knows it is dealing with a permanent colonial occupation, as does the rest of the world. Anything less than articulating the facts is treason against the Palestinian people.

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