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Ben Uliel and the murder of the Dawabsheh Family  – Middle East Monitor

Israeli media and Zionist apologists everywhere are busy whitewashing Israel’s globally-tattered image using the rare indictment of an Israeli terrorist, Amiram Ben Uliel, who was recently convicted for murdering the Palestinian Dawabsheh family, including an 18-month-old toddler in the town of Duma, south of Nablus.

The conviction of Ben Uliel by an Israeli three-judge court on May 18, is expectedly celebrated by some as proof that the Israeli judicial system is fair and transparent, and that Israel does not need to be investigated by outside parties.

The timing of the Israeli court’s decision to convict Ben Uliel of three counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder was particularly important, as it followed a decision by the the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to move forward with its investigation of war crimes committed in Occupied Palestine.

Considering how Israel’s extremists, especially those living illegally in the Occupied West Bank, are governed through a separate, and far more lenient system than the military regime that governs Palestinians, the seemingly-clear indictment of the Israeli terrorist deserves further scrutiny.

READ: Israel settler accused of murdering Palestinian mum returns to his settlement

Israel’s apologists were quick to celebrate the verdict by the court, to the extent that Israel’s own internal intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, known for its notorious torture methods of Palestinian prisoners, described the decision as “an important milestone in the battle against Jewish terror”.

Others labored to separate Ben Uliel’s grizzly attack from the rest of Israeli society, implying that the man was a lone wolf and not the direct outcome of Israel’s unhinged racism and violent discourse directed at innocent Palestinians.

Despite the clear indictment of Ben Uliel, the Israeli court was keen on accentuating the point that the Israeli terrorist acted alone and that he was not a member of a terrorist organization. Based on that logic, the court argued that the judges “could not rule out that the attack was motivated by a desire for revenge or racism without Ben-Uliel actually being a member of an organized group.”

Amiram Ben-Uliel, a Jewish settler, is lead by police for his sentencing hearing over the 2015 arson attack that killed a Palestinian toddler and his parents [AVSHALOM SASSONI/POOL/AFP/Getty Images]

Amiram Ben-Uliel, a Jewish settler, is lead by police for his sentencing hearing over the 2015 arson attack that killed a Palestinian toddler, Ali Saeed Dawabsheh and his parents [AVSHALOM SASSONI/POOL/AFP/Getty Images]

The verdict was a best case scenario for Israel’s image under the circumstances, as it deliberately absolved the massive terrorist network that spawned the likes of Ben Uliel and the Israeli army that protects those very extremists on a daily basis, while whitewashing Israel’s deservingly bad reputation as a violent society with an unjust judicial system.

But Ben Uliel is, by no measure, a lone wolf.

NGO: Israel settlers exploit coronavirus to increase violence against Palestinians

When the Israeli terrorist, along with other masked assailants, broke into the house of Sa’ad and Reham Dawabsheh at 4 am on July 31, 2015, he was clearly on a mission to elevate his name within the ardently racist, extremist society which has made the murder and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians a sort of a divine mission.

Ben Uliel achieved his objectives completely. Not only did he kill Sa’ad and Reham, but their 18-month-old son, Ali, as well. The only surviving member of the family was 4-year-old Ahmed, who was severely burnt.

The murder of the Palestinian family, little Ali in particular, quickly became the source of joy and celebration among Jewish extremists. In December 2015, six months after the murder of the Dawabsheh family, a 25-second video clip that went viral on social media showed a crowd of Israelis celebrating the death of Ali.

The video showed a “room of jumping, dancing men wearing white skullcaps, many with the long sidelocks of Orthodox Jews. Some of them are brandishing guns and knives,” The New York Times reported.

“Two (of the celebrating Israelis) appear to be stabbing pieces of paper they hold in their hands, which the television station identified as pictures of an 18-month-old child, Ali Dawabsheh.”

Despite Israeli police claims that they were ‘investigating’ the hate fest, there is little evidence to suggest that anyone was held accountable for the unmitigated celebration of violence against an innocent family and a toddler. In fact, Israeli State prosecutors later claimed that they had lost the original video of the dancing extremists.

READ: Israel expropriates Palestinian land to expand illegal settlement

The celebration of Israeli terrorism carried on unabated for years, to the extent that on June 19, 2018, Israeli extremists chanted openly, taunting Ali’s grandfather as he was leaving an Israeli court, with such obscene slogans, as “Where is Ali? Ali’s dead,” “Ali’s on the grill”.

The heinous murder of Ali and his family, and the subsequent trial were added to an array of other events that starkly challenged Israel’s carefully concocted image of being a liberal democracy.

On March 24, 2016, Elor Azaria killed a Palestinian man, Fattah al-Sharif, in cold blood. Al-Sharif was left bleeding on the ground while unconscious after, per Israeli army claim, trying to stab an Israeli soldier.

Azaria received a light sentence of eighteen months, soon to be freed in a massive celebration, like a conquering hero. Israel’s top government officials, including Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, supported the cold-blooded murderer throughout the trial. It will not come as a complete surprise if Azaria claims a top position in the Israeli government at some point in the future.

The celebration of murderers and terrorists like Ben Uliel and Azaria, is not a new phenomenon in Israeli society. Baruch Goldstein, the Israeli terrorist who killed scores of Palestinian worshippers while kneeling for prayer at Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Al-Khalil (Hebron) in 1994, is now perceived as a modern martyr, a saint of biblical proportions.

READ: Annexation of occupied territory is a crime

In such cases, when the nature of the crime is so overwhelmingly violent, the extent of which forces itself on global news media, Israel is left with only one option – to use the indictment of ‘Jewish terrorism’ as an opportunity to reinvent itself, its ‘democratic’ system, its ‘transparent’ judicial proceedings, and so on. Meanwhile, Israeli media and its affiliates worldwide labor to describe the collective ‘shock’ and ‘outrage’ felt by ‘law-abiding’, ‘peace-loving’ Israelis.

The murder of the Dawabsheh family, although one of numerous acts of violence perpetrated by Jewish extremists and the Israeli military against innocent Palestinians, is the perfect case in point.

Indeed, a quick look at the numbers and reports produced by the United Nations indicates that the Jewish settlers’ murder of the Palestinian family was not the exception but the norm.

In a report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in June 2018, UN investigators spoke of an exponential rise of Israeli settler violence against Palestinians.

“Between January and April 2018, OCHA documented 84 incidents attributed to Israeli settlers resulting in Palestinian casualties (27 incidents) or in damage to Palestinian property (57 incidents),” the report read. That trend continued, at times markedly increasing, with very little accountability.

READ: Israel settlers infected with coronavirus brutally attack Palestinian civilians

The Israeli rights group, Yesh Din, has been following up on the small percentage of settler violence cases that were opened by the Israeli military and police. The group concluded that, “of 185 investigations opened between 2014 and 2017 that reached a final stage, only 21, or 11.4%, led to the prosecution of offenders, while the other 164 files were closed without indictment.”

The reason for this is simple: the hundreds of thousands of Jewish extremists who have been transferred to permanently settle in the occupied territories, an act that starkly violates international law, do not operate outside the colonial paradigm designed by the Israeli government. In some way, they too, are ‘soldiers’, not only because they are armed and coordinate their movement with the Israeli army, but because their ever-expanding settlements lie at the heart of the Israeli occupation and its continued project of ethnic cleansing.

Therefore, Jewish settler violence, like that committed by Ben Uliel, should not be analyzed separately from the violence meted out by the Israeli army, but seen within the larger context of the violent Zionist ideology that governs Israeli society as a whole. It follows that settler violence can only end with the end of the military occupation in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, and with the demise of the racist Zionist ideology that spews hatred, embraces racism and rationalizes murder.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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How memory became Palestine’s greatest weapon – Middle East Monitor

On May 15, thousands of Palestinians in Occupied Palestine and throughout the ‘shatat’, or diaspora, participated in the commemoration of Nakba Day, the one event that unites all Palestinians, regardless of their political differences or backgrounds.

For years, social media has added a whole new stratum to this process of commemoration. #Nakba72, along with #NakbaDay and #Nakba, have all trended on Twitter for days. Facebook was inundated with countless stories, videos, images, and statements, written by Palestinians, or in global support of the Palestinian people.

The dominant Nakba narrative remains – 72 years following the destruction of historic Palestine at the hands of Zionist militias – an opportunity to reassert the centrality of the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees. Over 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homes in Palestine in 1947-48. The surviving refugees and their descendants are now estimated at over five million.

As thousands of Palestinians rallied on the streets and as the Nakba hashtag was generating massive interest on social media, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, paid an eight-hour visit to Israel to discuss the seemingly imminent Israeli government annexation, or theft, of nearly 30% of the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

READ: ‘Palestinians continue to live the Nakba 72 years on’

“The Israeli government will decide on the matter, on exactly when and how to do it,” Pompeo said in an interview with Israeli radio, Kan Bet, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Clearly, the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu has American blessing to further its colonization of occupied Palestine, to entrench its existing Apartheid regime, and to act as if the Palestinians simply do not exist.

The Nakba commemoration and Pompeo’s visit to Israel are a stark representation of Palestine’s political reality today.

Considering the massive US political sway, why do Palestinians then insist on making demands which, according to the pervading realpolitik of the so-called Palestinian-Israeli conflict, seem unattainable?

Since the start of the peace process in Oslo in the early 1990s, the Palestinian leadership has engaged with Israel and its western benefactors in a useless political exercise that has, ultimately, worsened an already terrible situation. After over 25 years of haggling over bits and pieces of what remained of historic Palestine, Israel and the US are now plotting the endgame, while demonizing the very Palestinian leaders that participated in their joint and futile political charade.

Strangely, the rise and demise of the so-called ‘peace process’ did not seem to affect the collective narrative of the Palestinian people, who still see the Nakba, not the Israeli occupation of 1967, and certainly not the Oslo accords, as the core point in their struggle against Israeli colonialism.

This is because the collective Palestinian memory remains completely independent from Oslo and its many misgivings. For Palestinians, memory is an active process. It is not a docile, passive mechanism of grief and self-pity that can easily be manipulated, but a generator of new meanings.

An elderly Palestinian and a child during the Nakba [Hanini/Wikipedia]

An elderly Palestinian and a child can be seen during the Nakba [Hanini/Wikipedia]

In their seminal book “Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory”, Ahmad Sa’di and Lila Abu-Lughod wrote that “Palestinian memory is, at its heart, political.”

This means that the powerful and emotive commemoration of the 72nd anniversary of the Nakba is essentially a collective political act, and, even if partly unconscious, a people’s retort and rejection of Donald Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’, of Pompeo’s politicking, and of Netanyahu’s annexation drive.

Despite the numerous unilateral measures taken by Israel to determine the fate of the Palestinian people, the blind and unconditional US support of Israel, and the unmitigated failure of the Palestinian Authority to mount any meaningful resistance, Palestinians continue to remember their history and understand their reality based on their own priorities.

For many years, Palestinians have been accused of being unrealistic, of “never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” and even of extremism, for simply insisting on their historical rights in Palestine, as enshrined in international law.

These critical voices are either supporters of Israel, or simply unable to understand how Palestinian memory factors in shaping the politics of ordinary people, independent of the quisling Palestinian leadership or the seemingly impossible-to-overturn status quo. True, both trajectories, that of the stifling political reality and people’s priorities seem to be in constant divergence, with little or no overlapping.

However, a closer look is revealing: the more belligerent Israel becomes, the more stubbornly Palestinians hold on to their past. There is a reason for this.

Occupied, oppressed and refugee camps-confined Palestinians have little control over many of the realities that directly impact their lives. There is little that a refugee from Gaza can do to dissuade Pompeo from assigning the West Bank to Israel, or a Palestinian refugee from Ein El-Helweh in Lebanon to compel the international community to enforce the long-delayed Right of Return.

But there is a single element that Palestinians, regardless of where they are, can indeed control: their collective memory, which remains the main motivator of their legendary steadfastness.

READ: Refugee granddaughters keep the memory of their grandparents’ Nakba alive

Hannah Arendt wrote in 1951 that totalitarianism is a system that, among other things, forbids grief and remembrance, in an attempt to sever the individual’s or group’s relation to the continuous past.

For decades, Israel has done just that, in a desperate attempt to stifle the memory of the Palestinians, so that they are only left with a single option, the self-defeating peace process.

In March 2011, the Israeli parliament introduced the ‘Nakba Law’, which authorized the Israeli Finance Ministry to carry out financial measures against any institution that commemorates Nakba Day.

Israel is afraid of Palestinian memory, since it is the only facet of its war against the Palestinian people that it cannot fully control; the more Israel labors to erase the collective memory of the Palestinian people, the more Palestinians hold tighter to the keys of their homes and to the title deed of their land back in their lost homeland.

There can never be a just peace in Palestine until the priorities of the Palestinian people – their memories, and their aspirations – become the foundation of any political process between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Everything that operates outside this paradigm is null and void, for it will never herald peace or instill true justice. This is why Palestinians remember; for, over the years, their memory has proven to be their greatest weapon.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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The Day My Grandfather Lost His Village in Palestine  – Middle East Monitor

Starting on March 27, 1948, a beautiful, small Palestinian village called Beit Daras, came under Zionist militias attacks. With little means – a few old rifles and kitchen knives – the Badrasawis fought back, repelling the first raid and the second. The final attack on the peaceful village followed a scorched-earth military strategy, leaving in its wake scores of dead and wounded, and the entirety of the village on the run. Among the thousands of ethnically-cleansed Palestinians in Beit Daras, a family of six, including an infant, salvaged a few old blankets and some supplies and went searching for a safe place, with the hope that they would return home in a few days. Their nearly one hundred descendants are yet to return to Beit Daras, 72 years later. 

Hope, Faith and Old Blankets

“Why bother to haul the good blankets on the back of a donkey, exposing them to the dust of the journey, while we know that it’s a matter of a week or so before we return to Beit Daras?” Mohammed told his bewildered wife, Zeinab. Many years later, Grandma Zeinab would repeat this story with a chuckle as Grandpa Mohammed would shake his head with an awkward mix of embarrassment and grief.

I cannot pinpoint the moment when my grandfather, that beautiful, old man with the small white beard and humble demeanor discovered that his “good blankets” were gone forever, that all that remained of his village were two giant concrete pillars and piles of cactus. I know that he had never given up hope of returning to Beit Daras, perhaps to the same small mud-brick house with the dove tower on the roof.

READ: What going home and staying there means for the Palestinians

Beit Daras’ inconsequential existence of the present would espouse little interest, save two concrete pillars that once upon a time, served as an entrance to a small mosque, the walls of which, like those faithful to it are long gone. Yet, somehow, they still insist on identifying with that serene place and that simple existence. On that very spot, on the shoulder of that small hill, huddled between numerous meadows and fences of blooming cactus, there once rested that lovely little village. And also, there, somewhere in the vicinity of the two existing giant concrete pillars, in a tiny mud-brick home with a small extension used for storing crops and a dove tower on the roof, my father, Mohammed Baroud, was born.

It isn’t easy to construct a history that, only several decades ago, was, along with every standing building of that village, blown to smithereens with the very intent of erasing them from existence. Most historic references of Beit Daras, whether by Israeli or Palestinian historians, are brief, and ultimately, resulted in delineating the fall of Beit Daras as just one among nearly 500 Palestinian villages that were often ethnically cleansed and then completely flattened during the war years of 1947-1949. It was another episode in a more compounded tragedy that has seen the dispossession and expulsion of nearly 800,000 Palestinians. For Zionists, Beit Daras was just another hill, known by a code battle name, to be conquered, as it were. But it should be more than a footnote in David Ben Gurion’s ‘War Diaries’, or Benny Morris’s volume, ‘The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem’. It’s more than a few numbers on an endless chart, whether one that documents victims of massacres, or estimates of Palestinian refugees still reliant on United Nations food aid. For Palestinians, its fall is one of many sorrows in the anthology which is collectively known as Al-Nakba, or the Catastrophe.

My grandparents never tired of reminiscing about their beloved village. My grandfather was often mocked at for supposedly failing to understand the depth of his tragedy, by insisting on leaving the “good blankets” behind as he herded his children together to escape the village and the intense bombardment. He died merely 58 kilometers southwest of Beit Daras, in a refugee camp known as Nuseirat.

Beit Daras provided dignity. Grandpa’s calloused hands and leathery weathered skin attested to the decades of hard labor tending the rocky soil in the fields of Palestine. It was a popular pastime for my brothers and I to point to a scar on his battered little body and to hear a gut-busting tale of the rigors of farm-life. Grandpa ran his fingers over the fading scar on the crown of his head and chuckled, “I got this one at dawn. I went to milk the cow, usually your grandmother’s chore, and that cow had it in for me. I squatted behind her and then everything went black.” Tales of being trampled by the donkey or being run-over by a plough, possibly life-threatening injuries were all reduced to humorous anecdotes sure to provoke a flood of laughter from his grandchildren.

READ: Arabs, UN must move to swiftly protect the status of Palestinian refugees 

Nakba Day 1948 - Cartoon [Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

Nakba Day 1948 – Cartoon [Carlos Latuff/MiddleEastMonitor]

Grandpa similarly enjoyed reminiscing on the good old days when he had land, a house, chickens, goats, a strong back – everything he needed to provide for his family. Camp life provided nothing for which to harvest a sense of self-respect. Food that was once the fruit of hours of toiling in his own fields, was now provided in a burlap bag by some European country or by the United Nations. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges he faced was enduring a life of idleness. One activity however, that occupied his time was sitting with other men in the camp and discussing the politics of the day, debating just from whom and when liberation would come. Would their lands back home be ready for planting? Would they be able to rebuild right away?

Later in life, someone would give him a small hand-held radio to glean the latest news and he would, from that moment, never be seen without it. As a child, I recall him listening to the news of the ‘Arab Voice’ on that battered radio. It had once been blue but had now faded to white with age. Its bulging batteries were duct-taped to the back. Sitting with the radio up to his ear and fighting to hear the reporter amidst the static, grandpa listened and waited for the announcer to make that long-awaiting call: “To the people of Beit Daras: your lands have been liberated, go back to your village.”

READ: The Nakba Explained 

In my life, I only heard my grandpa curse on one recurring occasion. His younger son, Muneer, used to make sport of him by running into the room where he would sit and crying out, “Father, they just made the announcement, we can reclaim our land today!” My grandpa would jump from his chair and dash for the radio when my uncle could not contain his laughter any longer. Knowing that his son had so maliciously fooled him once more, he would point his shaky finger at him and mumble under his breath, “You little bastard”, and he would return to his chair to wait.

The day Grandpa died, his faithful radio was lying on the pillow close to his ear so that even then he might catch the announcement for which he had waited so long. He wanted to comprehend his dispossession as a simple glitch in the world’s consciousness that was sure to be corrected and straightened in time. He was not mindful of balances of power, regional geopolitics, or other trivial matters. But it is not as if Grandpa was not a keen man, for he certainly was in all worldly matters of relevance to his humble existence. But, he decidedly refused to entertain any rationale that would mean the acceptance of an eternal divorce from a past that defined every fiber of his being. For him, accepting that the “good blankets” were gone was the end of hope, the end of faith, the end of life. Grandpa Mohammed was a hopeful man, with strong faith. I loved his company, and his pleasant stories of Beit Daras, its simple folk and much happier times.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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Former Swedish Diplomat Speaks about His Experiences in Occupied Palestine – Middle East Monitor

Mats Svensson is a former Swedish diplomat, author, and photographer. His books include “Crimes, Victims, and Witnesses – Apartheid in Palestine.” His latest volume,  “Apartheid is a Crime – Portraits of Israeli Occupation,” was just released by Cunepress in Seattle.

Svensson joined me and my co-host Romana Rubeo on “Palestine Chronicle TV”, on May 6, to discuss his fascinating experiences in Palestine and the balancing act of being a diplomat and a conscientious human being who cares deeply about the principles of justice and equality.

“I went to Palestine in 2004; before that, I had been working for many years in Bangladesh, in Congo, (and) in South Africa. They convinced me to go to Palestine. I prepared myself. I read a lot,” he began.

“I spent the first ten days moving around, talking to journalists, to politicians, to UN people. I remember going to Qalqilya (in the northern occupied Palestinian West Bank), where I saw the Wall for the first time. I talked to people that had lost everything because they had the land on the wrong side of the Wall. Then I went to Hebron and I went to Gaza. And something happened inside of me during this time. I was in shock. I understood that I was not prepared at all. Something had manipulated me but I did not know what it was, at the time.”

 

Svensson reflected on his experiences in South Africa which fought a long and arduous struggle against apartheid and racism. He told us, “When I was in South Africa, I had a feeling that there was something missing, because I went there after 1994, in 2000. It is as if what I was looking for in South Africa was happening in Palestine now.”

“The representative of South Africa in Ramallah laughed when I told her that and she said: ‘100% of South Africans who spend at least one month here, we all say that apartheid in South Africa was just a picnic compared to Palestine.’ I said: ‘I don’t believe it, you can’t mean that’. But she answered: ‘You don’t have to believe me, you might believe Desmond Tutu, who keeps repeating it every week; you might believe Mandela.’”

“That was my beginning.”

BOOK REVIEW: Apartheid is a Crime, portraits of the Israeli Occupation

Indeed, that was just the beginning. The time that Svensson spent in Palestine was more than enough to convince him that what is taking place in Palestine is even worse than apartheid, and that “silent diplomacy” will never work as a tool of pressure on Israel to end its subjugation of Palestinians.

Watch our exciting interview with Mats Svensson and make sure that you obtain his latest book “Apartheid is a Crime” at this link.

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Annexation of Palestine began in San Remo – Middle East Monitor

One hundred years ago, representatives from a few powerful countries convened at San Remo, a sleepy town on the Italian Riviera. Together, they sealed the fate of the massive territories confiscated from the Ottoman Empire following its defeat in World War I.

It was on April 25, 1920, that the San Remo Conference Resolution was passed by the post-World War I Allied Supreme Council. Western Mandates were established over Palestine, Syria and ‘Mesopotamia’ – Iraq. The latter two were theoretically designated for provisional independence, while Palestine was granted to the Zionist movement to establish a Jewish homeland there.

“The Mandatory will be responsible for putting into effect the (Balfour) declaration originally made on November 8, 1917, by the British Government, and adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” the Resolution read.

The Resolution gave greater international recognition to Britain’s unilateral decision, three years earlier, to grant Palestine to the Zionist Federation for the purpose of establishing a Jewish homeland, in exchange for Zionist support of Britain during the Great War.

READ: Israeli annexation of West Bank to end 2-state solution

And, like Britain’s Balfour Declaration, a cursory mention was made of the unfortunate inhabitants of Palestine, whose historic homeland was being unfairly confiscated and handed over to colonial settlers.

The establishment of that Jewish State, according to San Remo, hinged on some vague ‘understanding’ that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”

The above addition merely served as a poor attempt at appearing politically balanced, while in reality no enforcement mechanism was ever put in place to ensure that the ‘understanding’ was ever respected or implemented.

In fact, one could argue that the West’s long engagement in the question of Israel and Palestine has followed the same San Remo prototype: where the Zionist movement (and eventually Israel) is granted its political objectives based on unenforceable conditions that are never respected or implemented.

Notice how the vast majority of United Nations Resolution pertaining to Palestinian rights are historically passed by the General Assembly, not by the Security Council, where the US is one of five veto-wielding powers, always ready to strike down any attempt at enforcing international law.

READ: Arab foreign ministers condemn Israeli plan to annex parts of occupied West Bank

It is this historical dichotomy that led to the current political deadlock.

Palestinian leaderships, one after the other, have miserably failed at changing the stifling paradigm. Decades before the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, countless delegations, comprised those claiming to represent the Palestinian people, traveled to Europe, appealing to one government or another, pleading the Palestinian case and demanding fairness.

What has changed since then?

On February 20, the Donald Trump administration issued its own version of the Balfour Declaration, termed the ‘Deal of the Century’.

Deal of the century, embassy relocation, and the Golan Heights - Israel surely can't believe their luck? - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Deal of the century, embassy relocation, and the Golan Heights – Israel surely can’t believe their luck? – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The American decision which, again, flouted international law, paves the way for further Israeli colonial annexations of occupied Palestine. It brazenly threatens Palestinians that, if they do not cooperate, they will be punished severely. In fact, they already have been, when Washington cut all funding to the Palestinian Authority and to international institutions that provide critical aid to the Palestinians.

READ: Annexation of occupied territory is a crime

Like in the San Remo Conference, the Balfour Declaration, and numerous other documents, Israel was asked, ever so politely but without any plans to enforce such demands, to grant Palestinians some symbolic gestures of freedom and independence.

Some may argue, and rightly so, that the ‘Deal of the Century’ and the San Remo Conference Resolution are not identical in the sense that Trump’s decision was a unilateral one, while San Remo was the outcome of political consensus among various countries – Britain, France, Italy, and others.

True, but two important points must be taken into account: firstly, the Balfour Declaration was also a unilateral decision. It took Britain’s allies three years to embrace and validate the illegal decision made by London to grant Palestine to the Zionists. The question now is, how long will it take for Europe to claim the ‘Deal of the Century’ as its own?

Lord Arthur James Balfour, former Prime Minister of the UK [al whit/Twitter]

Lord Arthur James Balfour, former Prime Minister of the UK [al whit/Twitter]

Secondly, the spirit of all of these declarations, promises, resolutions, and ‘deals’ is the same, where superpowers decide by virtue of their own massive influence to rearrange the historical rights of nations. In some way, the colonialism of old has never truly died.

The Palestinian Authority, like previous Palestinian leaderships, is presented with the proverbial carrot and stick. Last March, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, told Palestinians that if they did not return to the (non-existent) negotiations with Israel, the US would support Israel’s annexation of the West Bank.

READ: The PA has no political strategy to counter US-Israeli annexation plans

For nearly three decades now and, certainly, since the signing of the Oslo Accords in September 1993, the PA has chosen the carrot. Now that the US has decided to change the rules of the game altogether, Mahmoud Abbas’ Authority is facing its most serious existential threat yet: bowing down to Kushner or insisting on returning to a dead political paradigm that was constructed, then abandoned, by Washington.

The crisis within the Palestinian leadership is met with utter clarity on the part of Israel. The new Israeli coalition government, consisting of previous rivals Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, have tentatively agreed that annexing large parts of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley is just a matter of time. They are merely waiting for the American nod.

They are unlikely to wait for long, as Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said on April 22 that annexing Palestinian territories is “an Israeli decision.”

Frankly, it matters little. The 21st century Balfour Declaration has already been made; it is only a matter of making it the new uncontested reality.

Perhaps, it is time for the Palestinian leadership to understand that groveling at the feet of those who have inherited the San Remo Resolution, constructing and sustaining colonial Israel, is never and has never been the answer.

Perhaps, it is time for some serious rethink.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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