Despite their allegedly different priorities, the PA is fuelling Israel’s ambitions

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends the 34th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council at the United Nations office in Geneva, Switzerland on February 27, 2017 [Mustafa Yalçın / Anadolu Agency]

Image of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on February 27, 2017

By Ramona Wadi

The diplomatic meetings and visits of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have coincided with the Israeli Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Yoav Horowitz visiting Washington to discuss settlement expansion. The stated objectives of both the PA and Israel differ in dissemination, yet follow an impeccable collaboration which should infuriate the entire international community. The absence of such outrage is evidence that even the definition of human rights has been corrupted permanently. Despite their allegedly different priorities, it is clear that the PA is fuelling Israel’s ambitions.

Abbas’s meeting with the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mladen Ivanić, last Friday was the first in a series which revealed the stagnant attitude towards Palestinian rights. Wafa news agency reported Ivanić as supporting “the Palestinian people’s right to exist” before reiterating the two-state compromise as imperative.

Image of Mladen Ivanić, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Ramallah on 16 March 2017 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu]

The meeting with the Emir of Qatar, Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, was the first of the diplomatic visits made by Abbas ahead of the Arab Summit, ostensibly to garner a semblance of support. According to Ma’an news agency, Abbas’s aim is to “confirm the Palestinian cause as a top priority for Arabs.”

The rhetoric about “top priority” was echoed faithfully by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who rehashed the usual perfunctory statements about commitment to “bring about permanent and comprehensive peace in the region,” as well as an independent Palestinian state, despite the improbability of the latter.

Meanwhile Abbas also stressed the importance of the US administration’s role “as the main sponsor of the peace process”. In other news reported by Wafa, Abbas clarified that a recent visit to Ramallah by US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt was not for the purpose of proposals but rather “to listen and learn [from the Palestinian leadership].”

While Abbas enjoys his tour of the Middle East and Europe, Horowitz’s visit to Washington is clearly proactive and detrimental to Palestinians. The joint press conference between US President Donald Trump and Netanyahu in February was ambiguous in its entirety, but mostly with regard to settlement expansion, which has remained a contentious issue, contrary to previous expectations. However, the slightest leniency from the US in this regard will undoubtedly damage Palestinian prospects further, as the Israeli right-wing has not relinquished the possibility of expanding the illegal colonies further at an even greater rate than in the past few years under the previous administration.

Read: Futile options and PA complicity in Israeli colonialism

Under such circumstances, Abbas’s purported achievements signalling only rhetorical unity will not even dent the colonial ambitions promoted by Israel. The forthcoming Arab Summit, like previous summits, is already garnering wasted attention, as will the planned visits with other heads of state in the region and in Europe. There is hardly a single country that has not betrayed Palestine in one way or another; however, Arab countries have been all too willing to employ the same jargon utilised by Israel regarding the effects of turmoil in the region and how this has affected the visibility of the Palestinians.

The prevailing attitude shows that, far from being a top priority, Palestine has become an obligatory yet perfunctory agenda item. Israel, meanwhile, is persisting against Trump’s reticence to approve colonial expansion overtly, which would pave the way towards clarifying ambiguous statements regarding the probability of refuting the two-state paradigm in favour of another scenario. The PA, however, has not evolved beyond initial alarm at Trump’s words, given the continuous seeking of assurances that the international community remains committed to the obsolete concept of “two states living side by side in peace”.

Given this impasse, and given that the first direct reference to Israel as an apartheid state at the UN has actually materialised (albeit to be disowned by the new secretary-general), Abbas could have seized the opportunity to emphasise the Palestinian reality. That’s what he could have done, but for the fact that collaboration with Israel forms the foundations for the PA’s existence, so he must stick to the script and play with rhetoric. The PA and its president really are fuelling Israel’s ambitions.

(Source / 22.03.2017)


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