PA-UN media collaboration is excluding Palestinian narratives

PA-UN media collaboration is excluding Palestinian narratives
Comment: Official Palestinian Authority media has allowed itself to become a mouthpiece for the UN, at the expense of other Palestinian narratives, writes Ramona Wadi.
6 min read
03 Oct, 2019
The Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation recently signed a media cooperation agreement with the UN [AFP]
Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh is no stranger to PR. In August, he attempted to secure the role the Palestinian Authority's official media play in "disseminating the Palestinian narrative".

But the PA's official media serves first and foremost, as a propaganda mouthpiece for its institution.

"When the Palestinian narrative reaches the world," Shtayyeh 
expounded, "it helps a lot in the political struggle and the diplomatic effort of the Palestinian leadership." 

But the reason behind Shtayyeh's lauding of PA media was soon revealed. The Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) signed a media agreement with the UN under Secretary-General for Global Communications, which allows the official Palestinian media to broadcast UN meetings.

In turn, the PBC, according to its chairman Ahmad Assaf, will provide the UN Information Centre with material about Palestine. The cooperation would also give prominence to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and its activities.

The joint expectation - always in line with the international manipulation of rights and liberation - is to "help spread the culture of peace". In other words, the Palestinian people are expected to embrace oblivion and act as props to the political actors deciding their fate.

Take a moment to remember UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' favourite catchphrase, "There is no plan B," with reference to the two-state paradigm. 

Likewise, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas' pleads incessantly to preserve the two-state compromise; already declared obsolete, each time Israel and the US threaten and violate what remains of Palestinian rights to their land.

Indeed, the international community couldn't have asked for a more compliant leadership when it comes to upholding international consensus about and against Palestine and Palestinians. 

The PA's penchant for publicity overrides the importance of preserving the Palestinian legitimate struggle

Official Palestinian media reports are careful to maintain this equilibrium between the PA and the international community, regardless of the consequences for the Palestinian people. 

Notably, the PA's incessant references to international law are portrayed as the virtue that sets it apart from other Palestinian factions.

What it seeks to conceal is the PA's exploitation of Palestinian narratives; 
Khan al-AhmarJerusalem and the issue of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are examples of ongoing and visible violations which the PA has, depending on its agenda, referred to the international community for attention. 

The selected Palestinian narratives need to fulfil the stringent parameters of historical commemoration and the two-state compromise. Both comprise the strategy endorsed by the international community and the PA.

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But teaming up with the UN in terms of media cooperation will more likely result in the annihilation of other, more diverse Palestinian narratives. 

Through its endorsement of the two-state compromise, the international community has made it clear it will not consider Palestinian anti-colonial struggle, despite its 
inclusion in the Geneva Conventions of 1949. 

Neither will the international community recall UNGA Resolution 37/43 (1982) which affirms the right of the colonised to "self-determination, national independence, territorial integrity, national unity and sovereignty without international interference." 

Needless to say, the PA's penchant for publicity overrides the importance of preserving the Palestinian legitimate struggle "without international interference." Having assimilated to international interference and exhibited competency at betrayal, the PA has deemed it necessary that the next step publicises international interference for a Palestinian audience in the form of a perpetual debate, disseminated through official state media.  

Under the guise of information, the PA is making several explicit statements.

Primarily, it is allowing itself to become a mouthpiece for the UN in Palestine through the use of state media. Granting the UN permission to infiltrate Palestine through media incentives will reinforce the notion of Palestine as an external problem, an in turn reinforce the continuation of the historical precedents that paved the way to the creation of colonial Israel. 

Despite the increasing opportunities for Palestinian voices to be heard and validated on their own merit and truth, the strategy has yet to influence international diplomacy. The moral struggle has rightly been described as a Palestinian victory, yet Palestinians are constantly deprived of chances for a moral political victory - one that rightfully restores ownership of land and the return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland. 

The PA's decision to broadcast UN sessions alongside PA propaganda will reinforce this disparity between politics and the Palestinian people. Additionally, the PA and the UN will be allowed ample space to decide the peace narrative without the people's input; always within the two-state framework. To put it briefly, this PA-UN collaboration is another step in promoting peace by forcing Palestinian absence.

It has been said countless times that the PA does not represent the Palestinian people.

In the occupied West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians have held demonstrations against the PA. Its role as a colonial collaborator disqualifies it from any role in promoting Palestinian narratives. But it continues to exploit such narratives in line with international interest. 

There a difference between UN debates for information purposes, and imposing such debates upon a population that has been deprived of the chance to speak by the PA leadership and the international community. 

Unless it is accomplished with utmost respect - including the important disclaimer that it doesn't speak for all Palestinians - the external debate can compromise Palestinian rights. 

The PA's decision to broadcast UN sessions alongside PA propaganda will reinforce this disparity between politics and the Palestinian people

The UN has blurred this fine line when discussing Palestine, to the point that its discourse and resolutions are synonymous with the Palestinian people.

It has set a dangerous precedent which must be dismantled and exposed for what it is: A compensation package that pretends to acknowledge Palestinians' political rights while granting Israel impunity for its violations. 

Palestinians have their own stories, their own memory and the means to express themselves. Rather than create spaces for these voices to form part of the political process, the PA has bequeathed their rights to the UN, which continues to profit by speaking for Palestinians. In doing so, they ignore the fact that Palestinians want resistance alternatives to the politics promoted by the PA and the international community.

Forcing Palestinians into silence is a travesty that will continue as long as the two-state compromise rhetoric serves its purpose. The only difference now is that the PA has decided to broadcast that humiliation. 

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.