US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Israel on Wednesday this week, two days before May 15 when Palestinians commemorate another anniversary of the 1948 Nakba. This year’s remembrance is heightened by the US-Israeli annexation plans. As Palestinians recall the ethnic cleansing upon which the colonial state of Israel was founded, the US and Israel will be consolidating their plans to extend the initial Plan Dalet, through means which violate international law.
Yet such schemes raise little objection because of the international community’s perpetual normalization of settlement expansion.
Speaking of forced transfer during a meeting with the Jewish Agency Executive in 1939, Zionist leader and founder of colonial Israel David Ben Gurion stated: “I don’t see anything immoral in it.” Not only did Ben Gurion not see anything immoral in planning the forced displacement of Palestinians; his words also initiated the trend of normalization which the international community has adopted since the Nakba.
The focus is now on the US-Israeli plans to annex swathes of the occupied West Bank – the latest phase in a series of colonial displacement tactics which the UN tacitly condoned in previous years by refusing to sanction Israel. According to the US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, the US will recognize 30 percent of Israel’s forthcoming annexation.
Since Trump was elected, the international community was presented an opportunity to cultivate further impunity for Israel.
Indeed, since Donald Trump was elected US President and openly embarked upon a series of political decisions to facilitate the Zionist concept of Greater Israel, the international community was presented with an opportunity to cultivate further impunity for Israel. By pitting the two-state paradigm against the US Deal of the Century, the UN initiated a trend of focusing on US politics, leaving Israel to reap the benefits largely unscathed.
This intentional misrepresentation of the current political scenario is dangerous for Palestinians. In 1948, the world witnessed the first forced displacement of the Palestinian population which the UN pretended to remedy by issuing Resolution 194 – the right of return in flawed wording that promotes colonization over the rights of the indigenous population.
In part, Article 11 of the resolution states: “The refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.” Why are Palestinian refugees, the victims of Zionism, being forced into a compromise to return? Furthermore, the wording exonerates Zionist colonial violence by the expectation that Palestinians live in peace with the European intruders that are now asserting their presence based upon a fabricated narrative of belonging.
Palestinians have largely referred to this resolution as affirming their right of return. However, the fabrication inscribed in the resolution is also a convenient tool for the UN to refrain from holding Israel accountable. Hence the international community’s focus on “settlements” as a deterrent to peace, while Palestinian forced displacement is secluded in statistics and humanitarian concerns.
The US-Israeli annexation plans extend the Nakba as a grand gesture following decades of gradual dispossession.
The US-Israeli annexation plans extend the Nakba as a grand gesture following decades of gradual dispossession. In turn, the international community’s refusal to tackle all forms of Israeli colonial expansion, including annexation, shows contempt for what the Palestinian people continue to endure.
As Palestinian historian Nur Masalha writes in his book, “The Palestine Nakba,” “Peace will remain elusive as long as Israel’s approach to Palestinian refugees is to erase them from history.”
With the Trump administration’s plans to alter the definition of Palestinian refugees – the aim being to eliminate all Palestinian refugee claims – deletion as a form of violence must be expounded upon both in terms of politics and memory.
US Senior Adviser Jared Kushner’s purportedly pragmatic solution to the Palestinian refugee rights is to eliminate their rightful claims by proposing and implementing the integration of Palestinian refugees in Arab host countries.
The UN’s adherence to the two-state compromise is also part of Palestinian erasure. Throughout the previous diplomatic negotiations, the Palestinian right of return was never given any attention other than symbolic prominence. Return itself became tied to symbolism – the number of refugees that would be allowed to live in a future Palestinian state according to the international paradigm would represent a fraction of the Palestinian refugees having the right to return to historic Palestine.
Annexation is the latest form of Palestinian eradication. By creating additional Palestinian refugees and at the same time laying the groundwork for their oblivion, the US and Israel are attempting to continue the Nakba while altering the political language. How will the next wave of forcibly displaced Palestinians be referred to within the international community and in terms of any future negotiations? Will the UN fall in line with the US and Israel in maintaining the politics of forced displacement while encouraging further fragmentation of the Palestinian people by distinguishing between 1948 and the present in this regard?
Both the US and the international community are architects in the politics that seek to expunge Palestinian territory and people.
In international politics, the US is considered to have abandoned the two-state consensus. However, both the US and the international community are architects in the politics that seek to expunge Palestinian territory and people.
The Palestinian people, on the other hand, have maintained the Nakba as an ongoing process of expurgation. Annexation is also part of the Palestinians’ ongoing Nakba. Both in terms of politics and memory, the annexation plans are a continuation of the earlier Palestinian dispossession.
The international community, on the other hand, has treated annexation merely as an international law violation, and one that will garner enough diplomatic attention towards the two-state politics, instead of shifting the focus to the refugees created by Israel since 1948.
If this trend continues, refugee discourse will be isolated within Palestinian society and remembrance of the Nakba. However, in terms of political action, the discrepancy between the Palestinian preservation of memory and the international community’s opportunistic references to the Nakba will continue to grow.
Yet, Palestinians have proved their resilience and will not give up on their historical rights to their land, even as the international community continues to restrict their chances for political assertion by exploiting the Nakba memories while prioritizing Israel’s throughout the rest of the year. If the UN’s collective response to Israel’s annexation plans remains ensconced within the two-state paradigm, the international community must own up to its role in erasing Palestinian memory and history.