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The US feigns being ‘disturbed’ by Israeli settler violence

March 16, 2023 at 2:30 pm

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (L) and Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant (R) hold a joint press conference after their meeting in Tel Aviv [Ariel Hermoni – Anadolu Agency]

Last week, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin acknowledged the current Israeli settler violence against the Palestinian people following a meeting with his Israeli counterpart Yoav Gallant. “The United States [remains] firmly opposed to any acts that could trigger more insecurity, including settlement expansion and inflammatory rhetoric,” Austin told reporters. “We’re especially disturbed about violence by settlers against Palestinians.”

The US is no stranger to settler violence. Its own history is imbued with it. Despite the US, like the rest of the international community, preferring to eliminate the settler-colonial context from any discussion of Israel, it knows that settler (and, indeed, state) violence is an inherent part of Israel’s social and political fabric. What Israel cannot achieve through widespread ethnic cleansing such as the 1948 Nakba, it leaves to its settler population to enact. The settler attack on Huwara was just one example, but not an isolated incident; Palestinians have been experiencing settler violence for decades. Austin is merely jumping onto a convenient bandwagon for rhetorical diplomatic conformity, and nothing else.

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Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called for Huwara’s eradication. As shocking as it sounded, the separation of Smotrich’s statement from Israeli colonialism is even more treacherous. Settler-colonialism seeks to replace the indigenous population intentionally from the very beginning. For Israel, having a Palestine without Palestinians is only a matter of time. Such reasoning was made possible not only because of the violence inherent in settler-colonialism, but also because the international community’s recognition of Israel erased the terrorism upon which Israel was founded.

So far removed was the international community from the reality of the colonised and displaced Palestinians, that UN General Assembly Resolution 194 on the Palestinian right of return protected Israel’s settler-colonial project above the political and human right of Palestinians to return to their homes. Rather than citing such a compromised resolution as a right, the UN should be called out for its protection of the Zionist colonial project at the expense of the Palestinian people. However, the resolution, as warped as it remains, has not been challenged, and settlers continue to act with impunity granted by the Israeli colonial structure as well as the international community.

Is it not disturbing that the international community created an entire web of impunity for Israel and its settlers, while professing to uphold Palestinians’ political rights? Huwara is a snapshot of decades of state and settler colonial violence. The US can abandon all pretence, as the rest of the international community should, that settler violence against Palestinians has remotely disturbed any spectators. Likewise, Palestinians can also abandon any vestiges of subservience to the international community, keeping in mind that their subjugation has been a forced condition through international resolutions and diplomatic engagement which have only strengthened Israel’s colonial expansion.

Since the US prioritises Israel, then it cannot claim to be “disturbed” by settler violence. Israel has ensured that there is a seamless link between state and settler violence to the point that their separation is impossible. The colonial framework that the US refuses to acknowledge sees to that. Israel’s entire existence is based on violence, so on what grounds is what happened in Huwara disturbing to the US, whereas the daily routine of Israeli settler-colonial violence isn’t?

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