Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas never fails to blunder in his speeches. Speaking at the UN in New York on the 75th anniversary of the 1948 Nakba, Abbas requested that the US and the UK address their historic responsibilities. One would think this means taking a political stance in favour of decolonisation. However, Abbas merely urged recognition of Palestinian self-determination on the basis of the two-state compromise. On the Nakba anniversary, Abbas failed to oppose Israeli colonisation and the colonial accomplices, urging instead for a continuation of the ongoing Nakba Palestinians have experienced for 75 years.
To accentuate his position of betrayal, Abbas also “voiced his confidence that the UN would not spare any effort in order to redress the historical injustice imposed upon the Palestinian people and eliminate the consequences of the Nakba.” What confidence is Abbas speaking of? The complete elimination of the political rights which refugees should be involved in, once again, does not centre in Abbas’ consciousness. The Nakba has been continuously distorted into a series of collective actions of normalised violence, such that now there is a jarring dissonance between the Palestinian people’s lived experience of the Nakba and the mangled imparting of the Nakba by the UN and the PA.
A historical injustice? No, it is a specific form of political violence as a result of aiding a colonial enterprise under the guise of a state on colonised land.
The decision to commemorate the Nakba at the UN, while unprecedented, is no guarantee that the UN recognised “the perpetual historical injustice on the Palestinian people”. It is to be remembered that the vote was not unanimous, that opposition to the commemoration exists within UN member states, and that a symbolic event, while meaningful in terms of memory, cannot make up for the multitude of ways in which Palestinians have been ostracised from their political rights and from their land.
Abbas has not detailed in what matter he has confidence in the UN’s purported efforts to address the “historic injustice”. Will the UN address its own complicity, for example, in coming up with the 1947 Partition Plan? The many non-binding resolutions which gave Israel the green light to continue its colonisation of Palestine. Furthermore, will the UN address the injustice inscribed in Resolution 194 which conditions the right of return upon Palestinians making peace with the colonisers? “Their neighbours”, in UN rhetoric. How swiftly the UN glossed over the macabre Zionist ethnic cleansing to transform a settler-colonial population into a neighbourhood! Where is the equivalence between the two? Has Abbas questioned this discrepancy?
How many more contradictions must Palestinians experience and why should their fate rest on the political charade the UN created out of colonialism, to the point that it even refuses to get the basic facts right? Once again, on what is Abbas basing his confidence? If it is symbolism and the political violence the UN created when it supported Zionist colonisation, then Abbas and the PA are a bigger travesty of leadership than they have exhibited so far. The 75th commemoration of the Nakba has been an eye-opener, indeed.
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