By Ramona Wadi
The new Palestinian Authority government has been welcomed by the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, who reiterated the rhetoric reserved for occasions on which the international organization pledges to work closely with governments in line with their agenda. “At a time of significant financial and political changes to the Palestinian national project,” Mladenov stated, “all must support the government’s efforts and work to overcome internal divisions.”
There is nothing, though, to suggest that the new PA government under recently appointed Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh is working towards reconciliation. Fatah’s insistence that Hamas must relinquish its political control of Gaza has not abated, implying that the PA agenda, as well as that of the UN, has not altered. Last year, there was an increase in the number of international statements, from UN envoys, in particular, calling for a return to PA rule in Gaza. The PA, according to them, makes it easier for the UN to carry out its plans.
Mladenov’s statement referenced the previous PA government led by Rami Hamdallah, who had also advanced the call for Hamas to step aside. What followed afterward is well documented, not least the punitive measures imposed by the PA upon the Palestinian people in Gaza in order to force civilians and politicians alike to surrender. From a PA perspective, ending the Palestinian schism means eliminating and suppressing political alternatives and challengers.
The recent news from Cairo indicates as much, with the Fatah delegation at reconciliation talks placing ultimatums upon Hamas and issuing ambiguous statements regarding the PA’s views on unity and the issue of the weapons in the hands of the armed wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement. In the event of reconciliation, asks Fatah, “What is the need for arms?”
There is thus little divergence from the previous government’s agenda, which is one of the reasons why Mladenov’s rhetoric about the previous and current PA governments overlaps in terms of content. As PA leader Mahmoud Abbas becomes, even more, irrelevant — due in part to the US efforts to ostracise any form of Palestinian representation and push through its own so-called “deal of the century” — international actors are increasingly taking over and determining the fate of Palestine’s remaining and cruelly fragmented territory.
Having a new PA government that adheres to the same definitions of reconciliation will provide the UN with a further opportunity to alter what remains of Palestine. Despite Mladenov’s praise for Hamdallah’s government keeping in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, for example, it is clear that the ongoing colonization of Palestine, along with the international complicity to ensure that Israel continues to expand its presence, have impeded Palestinians from experiencing any benefits.
A little less “commitment to working with the Palestinian leadership” and more effort towards listening to what the Palestinian people demand and need would go a long way. The UN is not working to “end the occupation”, much less end Israel’s colonization. The PA has, since its inception, followed suit.
A new government that is void of different political strategies, yet has the audacity to speak about Palestinian reconciliation, does not represent the Palestinian people. Mladenov’s comments are another indication of how the new government and the UN intend to work, by persisting in the creation of a diplomatic network that isolates the Palestinian people from the politics determining their fate.
– Ramona Wadi is a staff writer for Middle East Monitor, where this article was originally published. She contributed this article to the Palestine Chronicle.