Cuban Support for Palestine Should Mirror Castro’s anti-Colonial Legacy

Comandante Fidel Castro. (Photo: Mambo Photo, via WFAA, file)

By Ramona Wadi

Palestine continues to face an increasing contradiction which is becoming normalized in diplomatic arenas. During this year’s first UN Security Council session debating the Middle East and the Palestinian Question, Cuban representative Humberto Rivero Rosario made an observation that has been lacking in official rhetoric, but one that was diluted by the adherence to the two-state compromise. Referring to statistics and noting the increase in Israeli demolition of Palestinian dwellings in 2016, Rivero declared: “These figures, alarming as they seem, do not show the real magnitude of this reality for Palestinian families and for future generations of Palestinians.”

The statement represented a rare occasion in which statistics were considered part of the entire framework, rather than a mere research result, given the humanitarian dimension which is often minimized in order to preserve the dictated priorities which give rise to endless, futile debates about Palestine.

Rivero also noted that UNSC Resolution 2334 is inadequate. Following a reminder that this year will mark the 50th year of Israel’s occupation of Palestine, the Cuban representative declared: “It is time to break the silence and the immobilization that has caused suffering and unfair humiliation to the Palestinian people; it is time to end impunity over Israel’s criminal actions against Palestine.”

Yet, driving this discourse was an affirmation of support for the two-state paradigm: “We reiterate that the only possible solution to the Palestinian issue is the peaceful coexistence of two independent states, with the establishment of the independent, sovereign and viable State of Palestine, with its capital in East Jerusalem and respecting the pre-1967 borders.”

It could be argued that since the internationally-imposed paradigm became a permanent, yet obsolete, requirement in discussing Palestine, support from countries which are pro-Palestine is becoming jeopardized. The parameters of expressing support for Palestine have become obscured due to the necessity of aligning such support to the imposition that has only resulted in further fragmentation of Palestine, rather than serving as a foundation upon which a semblance of a state can be achieved.

The slightest criticism of Israel, particularly from countries that are traditionally supportive of Palestine, have elicited venomous attacks from the colonial entity’s international representatives. One might remember the Israeli reaction to Venezuela’s UN Ambassador Rafael Ramirez’s criticism in May 2016 when highlighting the colonial intent to makes not only Palestine disappear, but also Palestinians. Disappearance, as Israel has exhibited time and again, is only subject to Israeli interpretations and statements – any other external reference is immediately construed as an affront.

However, one of the greatest threats to international support for Palestinians comes from the Palestinian Authority. Its appeasing role is contributing to statements which are constantly seeking to occupy that middle ground where support for Palestine is considered acceptable given that criticism does not extend to the Israeli colonial project. Last year, the Venezuelan Ambassador’s comments elicited such a vehement response because opposition to Israeli colonialism was hinted at, despite the government’s stance which also adheres to the two-state compromise.

Indeed, the PA is actively encouraging compromised support. The Palestinian UN Permanent Observer Riyad Mansour is reported to have hailed the resolution as “a chance to salvage the two-state solution and make Palestinian-Israeli peace a reality.” It is no wonder that the anti-colonial struggle has been relegated to history, given the political promotion by the internationally-recognized Palestinian leadership of harmful requirements aiding, rather than opposing colonization.

Cuba’s stance at the UN is partly commendable. It can, however, be a driving force internationally by a simple adherence to what Fidel Castro once stated at the UN: “Colonies do not speak. Colonies are not known until they have the opportunity to express themselves.” Yet, while Cuban insistence on this requirement can be a catalyst for diplomatic change, the PA’s penchant for normalizing colonization might prove to be the primary source of annihilating a comprehensive and authentic approach.

– Ramona Wadi is a staff writer for Middle East Monitor, where this article was first published. She is also a columnist in various newspaper, and an artist.

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