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CurrentMiddle East

COVID-19 and the Politics of Coercion in Palestine

169
CurrentMiddle East

COVID-19 and the Politics of Coercion in Palestine

Despite assurances from Israel that it would halt home demolitions for Palestinians during the pandemic, the destruction of Palestinian property and land carried on as usual. Palestinian prisoners, perpetually suffering medical neglect in Israeli jails, continued to be neglected.

169

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Despite assurances from Israel that it would halt home demolitions for Palestinians during the pandemic, the destruction of Palestinian property and land carried on as usual. Palestinian prisoners, perpetually suffering medical neglect in Israeli jails, continued to be neglected.

According to the US Deputy Ambassador to the UN Cherith Norman Chalet, the coronavirus cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is what is required to restart diplomatic negotiations. The duplicity is rife.

In a UN Security Council meeting in March, Chalet described the necessary cooperation, which was ultimately a variable of security cooperation, as speaking “to the power of dialogue – the kind of dialogue we have all been urging parties to engage in for many months now.”   

A temporary pandemic differs from decades of colonialism supported by almost the entire international community. However, if Chalet intends the COVID-19 cooperation to serve as a prototype of how diplomatic negotiations could proceed, let us keep in mind that the same subjugation expected of the Palestinian leadership was prevalent also during the pandemic. 

Despite assurances from Israel that it would halt home demolitions for Palestinians during the pandemic, the destruction of Palestinian property and land carried on as usual. Palestinian prisoners, perpetually suffering medical neglect in Israeli jails, continued to be neglected. Settler violence continued unhindered, as the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Report earlier this month shows.

It is also impossible to forget that while the international community was busy heaping accolades on the PA for its containment measures and cooperation, a trend started by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Israel was busy preparing for its next political step – the annexation of the occupied West Bank. 

Chalet’s words, therefore, reek of political opportunism. The international community has since followed suit in asserting its expectations that negotiations resume. Both the US and the international community are exploiting the coronavirus pandemic for political gain when it comes to Palestine. Now that the US and the international community are seeking the same end – the destruction of Palestine – through the deal of the century and the two-state compromise respectively, the PA will be under greater pressure to subjugate itself one way or another. Unfortunately for the Palestinian people, the PA has been preparing for such a moment by pledging its allegiance to the international community’s two-state imposition. 

Both the US and the UN will expect the PA to cooperate. The Palestine Liberation Organisation’s Secretary-General Saeb Erekat has clearly asserted the stance in favour of the two-state compromise. This is no surprise. However, the international community’s diplomacy is now being touted as the “solution” that works juxtaposed against US President Donald Trump’s deal, which Israel will most likely be implementing parts of unilaterally. This designation does not bode well. The two-state compromise was never about an independent Palestinian state but a perpetual generation of Palestinian dependency to sustain international diplomacy and influence. 

Erekat’s endorsement of the two-state illusion, therefore, plays into the international community’s agenda as it pits itself as the long-standing, albeit defunct, alternative to Trump’s deal. To put it succinctly, Erekat is advocating for Palestine’s disappearance by refusing to support the Palestinian people’s political demands.

The result is predictable: Israel will go ahead with the unilateral annexation in contempt of all UN resolutions that masquerade as protection for the Palestinian people. Meanwhile, the UN will continue issuing its usual statements of tacit agreement while revisiting the loophole it provided when considering Trump’s deal. 

It must be remembered that the international community’s focus is the hypothesis of a two-state, not its implementation. Trump’s deal also offered a fragmented Palestinian state on pockets of land with no contiguity. The international community is the prime architect of Trump’s plan; the 1947 Partition Plan and subsequent Zionist colonial activity in Palestine, which the international community differentiates to refrain from calling the entire settlement enterprise illegal, have laid the foundations for the Palestinians’ current predicament.

No matter what political differences the UN might claim, there is no division between the US and the international community when it comes to supporting Israel’s complete destruction of Palestine. 

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