'Jerusalem is not for sale' because it has already been sold

'Jerusalem is not for sale' because it has already been sold
Comment: Portraying the PA as the sole voice of the Palestinian people is hampering their struggle for liberation, writes Ramona Wadi.
6 min read
04 Jan, 2019
Honduras and Brazil are considering plans to move their embassies to Jerusalem [Getty]
Jerusalem is fast becoming a rhetorical focal point for Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. 

In his last speech for 2018 commemorating the 54
th anniversary of Fatah's inception, Abbas declared that "Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Palestinian state and it is not for sale."

More specifically, Abbas stated, "We will not allow anyone to hatch a plot against Jerusalem." Yet the plot has been revealed by the US and Israel, while the Palestinian Authority cannot claim to have been uninvolved in Israel's scheming.

There is not a single Palestinian official that has referenced the concessions made to Israel as revealed in The Palestine Papers. Yet a brief glance back at the revelations would see Sa'eb Erekat 
granting Israel "the biggest Jerusalem in history".

Nor are Palestinian officials turning to the international community, accusing the institutions and political leaders of facilitating Israel's control over Jerusalem by refusing to halt colonial settlement expansion.

Jerusalem is not for sale because it has already been sold, in violation of the Palestinian population's political demands.

The UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly and UNESCO have referenced Jerusalem in at least 28 resolutions.

All are compromised due to the prevailing prioritising of the Israeli colonial narrative. All have focused upon the division of Jerusalem, in line with the international plans for maintaining Israel's colonisation of historic Palestine.

The result is that the only entity calling for Jerusalem's unification - under a colonial context, of course - is Israel.

Palestinian voices on Jerusalem are still relatively unheard

The political actors claiming to champion the Palestinian cause do not view Jerusalem as a Palestinian right. This extensive network of international diplomats has persistently classified Jerusalem as part of the two-state compromise which it seeks to impose upon the Palestinian people.

The PA is in concordance with this political imposition. As the Palestine Liberation Organisation abandoned its resistance aims in favour of "the right of the state of Israel to exist in peace and security," it also coerced Palestinians into a major political downfall.

The Palestinian Authority - an interim political body - became the principal collaborator from within, becoming associated mainly with violence and concessions due to security coordination with Israel and the willingness to dilute Palestinian political claims as regards Jerusalem, settlement expansion and the Palestinian right of return.

Since US President Donald Trump's unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the international community's façade has started to crumble.

As more countries have sarted to come forward and pledge to move their embassies to Jerusalem, Abbas' strategy remained the same. Instead of going to the Palestinian people to map out a vision for a united Jerusalem from Palestinian narratives, he opted to pander to the international community, grovelling for an international conference which will do nothing to save Jerusalem from Israeli colonisation.

The truth is that Israel and the US have not worked in isolation to bring the city to its knees and leave Palestinians in a vacuum as regards their legitimate claims to their historical and political rights to Jerusalem. As the PLO reneged on its aims, the Palestinian political spectrum fractured further to isolate the factions that still embraced revolutionary principles and aims.

Hence, the emerging PA was increasingly marketed by the international community as the only valid and legitimate political actor in Palestine. Its permanence is now rarely questioned despite increasing rifts between the PA and the Palestinian people.

In addition, it has also exploited Palestinian political factions solely to present a temporarily united veneer, only when it suits the PA's interests.

The result has been detrimental for Palestinians, with the political space for discussing Jerusalem absorbed by a plethora of voices all purportedly speaking for Palestine.

Yet, Abbas' overtures to the UN have only reinforced the myth that the international institutions are to be trusted with finding political solutions, while ignoring the collusion in allowing settler colonialism to occupy Palestine.

In addition, the PA's refusal to consider Palestinian solutions to Jerusalem has allowed different political actors to lay claim to finding a so-called solution for Jerusalem.

Abbas' overtures to the UN have only reinforced the myth that the international institutions are to be trusted

Everyone has asserted their right to speak about Jerusalem - the international status associated with the city has prompted leaders in the Arab world to create a pseudo-cause aligned with their own political interest, while the West ensures that every time Jerusalem is mentioned, the two-state solution is referenced as the only option.

The PA has not voiced any objection to either of these projections. As a result, Israel has not faced any obstacles while lobbying countries to move their embassies to Jerusalem, or when the Israeli government speaks of 'unifying' Jerusalem as part of its colonial project.

Israel is also using Jerusalem to further its military deals with countries pledging to move their embassies. According to reports, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be offering opportunities for his Brazilian counterpart, extreme right-wing Jair Bolsonaro, to purchase drones for "domestic security".

Read more: President Bolsonaro 'wants to' move Brazil's Israel embassy to Jerusalem

The international community's response to countries seeking to relocate their diplomatic missions was a mere reminder of Jerusalem within the context of the two-state compromise.

It was not even able to isolate countries that entered objected to the internationally-accepted framework.

Palestinian voices on Jerusalem are still relatively unheard. The international community is becoming an insular space, its international façade barely concealing a selective process that determines the people considered ineligible for participation, let alone demanding their rights.

Only the PA is allowed space on this platform, purely due to its acquiescence to international demands.

The comfortable arena occupied by diplomats is far removed from Jerusalem and Palestinians

Monopoly over Jerusalem, however, does not constitute true ownership. Nor should it be misconstrued that the PA's empty slogans form part of the Palestinian narrative on Jerusalem.

Trump's decision and its aftermath have exposed the Palestinian people's isolation, as well as the PA's alienation from the core of the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle.

Likewise, there is no way that Abbas can link Jerusalem to the PLO's non-existent liberation strategy.

The comfortable arena occupied by diplomats is far removed from Jerusalem and Palestinians. At the very least, the PA and Abbas should refrain from attracting additional ridicule.

If the trend of disappearing Palestinian voices from the issue of Jerusalem continues, the PA will not have only continued to sell Jerusalem but should be held accountable as one of the main actors channelling its destruction.

Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger specialising in the struggle for memory in Chile and Palestine, colonial violence and the manipulation of international law. 

Follow her on Twitter: @walzerscent

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.