The Palestinian Authority's internalised colonial narrative

The Palestinian Authority's internalised colonial narrative
Comment: Recent confirmation by Palestinian officials that security coordination with Israel will continue, underlined the schism between ordinary Palestinians and their internationally-recognised leadership, says Ramona Wadi.
5 min read
01 Jan, 2016
The negotiations premise is simply serving as a form of colonial violence [Getty]

A recent interview with PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat and the PA’s head of intelligence Majid Faraj published in Defense News has triggered opposing sentiment, in particular with regard to remarks made about the on-going security coordination with Israel.

At a time when the Palestinians are energised to resist without seeking prior approval from the various political factions, the comments have been widely perceived as a polite but clear dismissal of the Palestinian struggle for the reclamation of land, autonomy and memory.

Both Erekat and Faraj have articulated opinions which, given the context of the Jerusalem Intifada, have projected the dynamics of dependency and collaboration as a result of the Israeli colonial process.

Before the intifada, Israeli leaders embarked upon yet another construction of the 'enemy' through incitement against Palestinians, right after the settler terror attack upon the Dawabsha family in Duma.

For 22 years, I’ve been telling my people not to use violence, only negotiation. To recognise Israel     PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat

This enabled the Israeli government to shift rhetoric of terror from IS to Palestine and, in cases, create a fabricated narration which equated Palestinian legitimate resistance to the brutality of IS. The interview has showcased both leaders spouting the Israeli narrative  that a power vacuum

Rewriting the narrative

Erekat, whose nephew was killed recently in a confrontation with Israeli soldiers, spoke about the divergence between advocating non-violent resistance and the increasing alienation of the international community vis-a-vis Palestinian demands.

“For 22 years, I’ve been telling my people not to use violence, only negotiation. To recognise Israel.”

Erekat also predicted that legitimate armed resistance. would be abandoned.  Erekat stated that  “the 66 percent who wants armed resistance will become 99 percent.”  

Erekat reiterated also his recognition of Israel’s right to exist  “on 78% of historic Palestine”, with reference to the 1967 borders that have formed the premise of the two-state paradigm, as well as acceptance of a third party to oversee the implementations of any agreement.  

Erekat also described the colonisation process as “a political conflict over borders, water, refugees and everyday life.”   

'War on terror'  

Faraj, on the other hand, hailed security coordination with Israel as a necessity, stating that the PA security forces thwarted “200 attacks against Israelis, confiscated weapons and arrested about 100 Palestinians” since October.

The timeframe coincides with the commencement of the Jerusalem Intifada, yet the interview makes no explicit mention of the current resistance circumstances, neither of administrative detention, which is another consequence suffered by Palestinians and, in cases, through collaboration with the PA security forces.  

Despite describing the macabre nightly incursions by Israeli forces, his distortion of Palestinian resistance while advocating non-violent resistance plays right into the colonial narrative.

“We are sure that violence, radicalisation and terrorism will hurt us. It won’t bring us any closer to achieving our dream of a Palestinian state.” 

'Dream' is perhaps the keyword here;  so far, the two-state paradigm has only served the purpose of pending negotiations, resulting in a scenario when diplomacy is neatly suspended in order to pave the way for further Israeli expansion.

Even more telling is the incorporation of the 'war on terror' narrative that has engulfed the region.

A vacuum in case of the PA’s dissolution, according to Faraj, would provide IS with an opportunity to establish its base. Palestinian rejection of IS, “is a success of Abu Mazen.” Faraj continued, “We, together with our counterparts in the Israeli security establishment, with the Americans and others, are all trying to prevent that collapse.” 

Alternatives and restrictions 

Palestinian resistance factions have opposed Faraj’s comments. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri declared, “Protecting the security of the occupation has become part of the ideology of the Palestinian security forces.” Similarly, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) insisted that such statements were tantamount to “burying the intifada” and accused the PA of “serving the security interests of the occupation.”   

The Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research released statistical information that clearly shows loss of public support for Mahmoud Abbas and support for armed resistance. So far, the post-Oslo generation has been largely left to its own devices, with Palestinian resistance factions declaring support yet failing to actively translate rhetoric into action.

Hamas is considered to have projected the highest support, followed by the PFLP. Respondents also cited “fear of the PA” as one of the reasons why the current intifada is lacking in active, popular support.  

The negotiations premise is simply serving as a form of colonial violence.

If the current intifada is to succeed politically, Palestinian resistance factions will have to do more than preach unity from a calculated distance.

During their implementation, bargaining over symbolism has become a featured priority of the PA while Israel listens to condemnations and simultaneously approves plans for further settlement expansion.

In the absence of negotiations settlement expansion continues under the guise of security concerns. In this case, Palestinians’ inclination towards legitimate armed resistance is being condemned and modified into an expression to be halted, both by Israel and the PA.

If the current intifada is to succeed politically, Palestinian resistance factions will have to do more than preach unity from a calculated distance.

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.

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.