By Ramona Wadi
Reports in the Times of Israel indicate that the annexation of land from the occupied West Bank will be suspended until 2024, confirming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s insistence that annexation is still on the agenda. With a somewhat clearer picture of how Israel utilizes delays for colonial gain, the international community should be using the same timeframe to prevent Israel from further expansion but, of course, it won’t.
Suspension of Israel’s illegal move has now become synonymous with the illusion of a complete halt and resumed negotiations. Changing narratives is what Israel and the international community excel at.
The UAE-Israel normalisation deal, which is still being hailed as a breakthrough even as Palestinians are trying to voice the implicit abandonment of their rights, is now linked directly to the US “deal of the century”. According to this, the Palestinian Authority is on a four-year timeframe to get on board with the US-Israeli scheme for colonizing Palestine, bearing in mind that Netanyahu had said that he will implement parts of the deal with or without Palestinian engagement.
With annexation being suspended until 2024, both timeframes will now meet. What happens in the interim will determine the fate of the Palestinians, and it is this interim period about which the international community will just not be concerned. This is a recurring trend, which has brought the Palestinian people to their current predicament.
Settlement expansion, which complements annexation, will continue to take precedence, despite it being illegal under international law. Now, however, Israel can normalize settlement expansion to a new level, because the international community has failed to be explicit about the significance of land theft and forced displacement with regard to annexation.
With the coronavirus narrative also commanding attention in relation to settlement expansion, it is clear that the international community has ample diversions to keep itself busy even if it decides to issue stale, repetitive statements asking Israel to abide by international law, which it never does.
Among the discerning, it was obvious that the normalisation agreement had nothing to do with Palestine, the two-state compromise and annexation, although the international community attempted to fabricate a story in which Palestinians were supposedly the beneficiaries of “peace” between the UAE and Israel, and then Bahrain and the occupation state.
The only way that the Palestinians are involved in this narrative is through their elimination, which is what the deal and subsequent normalisation of relations between Israel and other Arab countries will ultimately bring about.
In this way, Arab countries are following what the international community did decades ago. Normalizing Israel through relations with the settler-colonial state is certainly not anathema to the international community, despite Israeli actions being in direct violation of international law. The keyword now, however, is annexation, because the international community pretends it can’t deal with a sequence of violations by always choosing the most recent and, as always, dissociating them from any and all historical context.
US assurances to the UAE are not equivalent to assurances for the Palestinian people. The normalisation agreement capitalizes upon Palestine, which has been exploited by governments in the region for decades.
Under President Donald Trump, America’s pro-Israel foreign policy has been catapulted to the fore. Not even in the face of such blatant exposure has the international community been capable of any restraint. On the contrary, having a country that brings the rest of the world in line with overt anti-Palestine plotting seems to have been just what the international community has been waiting for.
– Ramona Wadi is a staff writer for Middle East Monitor, where this article was originally published. She contributed this article to the Palestine Chronicle.