On July 16, Israeli media outlets reported that the Palestinian Authority approached the EU to take action against the planned demolitions of houses in Sur Baher, located in Area A of the occupied West Bank, which is controlled by the PA.
The Israeli court order for the demolitions cites security as justification for the demolitions. Contrary to Israeli claims, the buildings were not illegal dwellings – Palestinians sought permission from the PA to build their homes.
Last week, a group of EU diplomats toured the area slated for demolitions. Yet the EU waited until the demolitions started to issue a statement that had more to do with the two-state diplomacy promoted by the bloc than the ongoing ethnic cleansing and Palestinian displacement practiced by Israel since it colonised Palestine.
The EU statement confirms that demolitions had already started, thus exposing its refusal to take action prior to Israel displacing more Palestinian families. It also notes that Israel’s colonial settlement expansion “undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the prospect for a lasting peace and seriously jeopardising the possibility of Jerusalem serving as the future capital of both states.”
While the UN avoided the two-state jargon for once and issued its statement prior to the demolitions and forced displacement of Palestinian residents in Sur Baher, it achieved nothing in terms of protecting Palestinian rights. The UN officials issuing the statement simply communicated the organisation’s statistical precision and its refusal to hold Israel accountable.
“Calling on Israel to halt” the demolitions does not even constitute a prelude to action. It is a repetitive, perfunctory, convenient phrase that even fails to live up to the illusion that the UN is doing something constructive to enable Palestinian independence.
PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is reported to have requested an urgent UN Security Council meeting to address the demolitions, by which time Israel will have accomplished its mission, adding fodder for another UN report on Palestinian displacement.
Both the PA and the international community continue to exhibit an absence of strategy to deal with Israel’s colonial expansion. Since US President Donald Trump took office, Israel’s actions have been tied to the US “deal of the century”. The PA in particular has been insistent on framing each Israeli violation within the context of the US deal and in part, the reasoning is correct.
However, Trump’s deal does not exist in a vacuum. It is part of the ongoing efforts to isolate Palestinians. The PA and the international communtiy have contributed to this situation. It is useless to pit Trump’s support for Israel against the measured statements of the UN and the EU, for example, since both are advocating for the acceleration of Israel’s colonial expansion.
Sur Baher is also the latest news development. It is not the only Palestinian village that has been targeted for demolitions. Last year, Khan al-Ahmar took precedence in media narratives to the point of exploitation. This stance that was encouraged by the PA and the international community as it served Israel’s aim to fragment the ongoing dispossession into separate, disconnected actions.
The Bedouin village of Al Araqib is constantly targeted by Israel; last week it was demolised by the 143rd time. It is pertinent to ask why international attention is selectively focused, instead of linking the ongoing Palestinian displacement to Israel’s plan to colonise all of Palestine. One major reason is that separating each violation into isolated circumstances will not hold the international community accountable for enabling Israel’s colonisation of Palestine.
Undoubtedly, the demolitions of Palestinian homes and creating perpetual forced displacement runs contrary to international law. However, the international community has devised a strategy in which each violation is dissociated from its context. Hence, there will be no forthcoming admission from the international community that the demolitions in Sur Baher are part of a colonial land grab, just like Khan al-Ahmar last year, and all the towns and villages disappeared during the Nakba.