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The PA foreign minister’s contradictions support Israeli settler-colonialism

Palestinian Foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki speaks during the Rome MED, Mediterranean Dialogues forum in Rome, Italy [Riccardo De Luca – Anadolu Agency]

When the Palestinian Authority speaks about Israel’s settler-colonialism, it dilutes any possible impact immediately by mentioning the two-state compromise. During a joint press conference with his Italian counterpart Antonio Tajani in Ramallah, for example, PA Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki praised the Italian official for upholding the two-state paradigm. To this Tajani responded with the same rhetoric about supporting the two-state compromise and rejecting Israel’s settler-colonial expansion. According to Wafa news agency, Al-Maliki then “underscored the need to take practical steps to confront Israel’s regime of settler-colonialism, apartheid and military occupation against the indigenous Palestinian people and bring the crimes committed by the Israeli fascist government to an end.”

Details are so important that the international community has ensured their erasure. Nowadays, Israel is referred to in terms of apartheid and its military occupation, while settler-colonialism is all but eliminated, apart from when diplomats and government officials need to alter their rhetorical repertoire ever so slightly. In doing so, any criticism of Israel is spared the link to the historical ethnic cleansing which Palestinians suffered at the hands of Zionist paramilitaries which formed the core of the nascent Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

The two-state conjecture protects Israeli settler-colonialism and Palestinian erasure. Under the auspices of “two states”, Palestinians have been humiliated and degraded through humanitarian projects which are underfunded in comparison with the billions that Israel receives from the US every single year, let alone its trade deals with countries that claim to support Palestinian rights.

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Framing Israel’s current cycle of violence in isolation from the Nakba only normalises the aberrations further. Israel is condemned in slivers (if at all), depending on which violation catches media attention. Palestinians, who have reignited their history of unified resistance, are ignored. The limited, blinkered view presented by politicians and the media eliminates the settler-colonial reality and, as a result, disfigures the Palestinian people’s legitimate anti-colonial resistance which is recast as “terrorism”. What happened in Huwara, for example, is a recent manifestation of earlier ethnic cleansing, but the international community’s refusal to address both past and present colonial violence is what sustains the two-state compromise. By glossing over Israel’s creation and the ethnic cleansing which enabled it, the international community can pretend that the Nakba was of no significance, unlike the 1947 Partition Plan, which still influences international impositions on Palestine, and through which Palestinians were completely deprived of their political rights.

It looks as if Al-Maliki is advocating for settler-colonialism to continue. How — and why — does the PA separate Israel’s international law violations from settler-colonialism? And how is the two-state compromise a rejection of settler-colonialism, when the premise actually protects Israel’s colonial enterprise? When the PA speaks of Israeli apartheid and military occupation, why does it not specify both manifestations as derivatives of the settler-colonial reality and violence?

Al-Maliki’s rhetoric is contradictory. Confronting Israel’s settler-colonialism is not achieved through the two-state paradigm. On the contrary, denouncing the two-state framework for the treachery that it is will confront Israel’s settler-colonial existence directly. Plan B exists, but the PA and the international community will do all in their power to thwart it.

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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.