On the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas had the opportunity to deliver a powerful speech and back it up with a change in Palestinian politics. He did neither. On the contrary, Abbas’s mild criticism of the international organisation was mellowed by yet another avowal to “wait”, rather than work on a Palestinian alternative to end decades of failed intentional diplomacy.
UN Resolution 2621 “Declares the further continuation of colonialism in all its forms and manifestation a crime which constitutes a violation of the Charter of the United Nations, the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and the principles of international law.” It also reaffirms “the inherent right of colonial peoples to struggle by all necessary means at their disposal against colonial Powers which suppress their aspiration for freedom and independence.”
That’s the theory. In practice, the UN admitted Israel into its ranks as a colonial state — despite it never fulfilling the conditions of membership — and continues to defend it through the two-state compromise, which is structured to preserve Israel and its security narrative.
Not a single reference to the Palestinian people’s legitimate right to resist colonialism was made by Abbas in his recorded speech to the UN. Referencing Palestine as “the greatest test for this international order and its credibility,” Abbas went on to affirm that Palestinians “will continue to await the UN to fulfil its responsibility to achieve a peaceful settlement on the question of Palestine.” All of this because, according to Abbas, Palestinians have “placed their hope in the United Nations.”
Palestinians have been scripted into an international narrative that eliminates their political rights, and their leadership is doing nothing to oppose the status quo. Suggesting yet another international peace conference seems to be the only ineffective card that Abbas has left to play. Bearing in mind that the PA will not renounce its commitment to the moribund two-state compromise, why would Abbas expect a new approach from the international community towards Palestine at a time when the US has opted to prioritise normalisation agreements between Arab countries and Israel, thus bringing the region on a par with the rest of the world in professing purported support for Palestine while cementing their political allegiances with the colonial state?
It is not as if the UN will change its tune merely because of the PA’s pleas to remain committed to plans that are damaging for the Palestinian people. There has not been a single instance where the PA has used international law as anything other than a reference for rhetorical purposes, while Israel and the international community have created pockets of impunity which preserve the political violations inflicted upon the people of occupied Palestine.
The PA is fulfilling its role as an extension of the international community and Israel to suppress the Palestinians. Meanwhile, the UN is also complicit in this instead of fulfilling its obligation to uphold its own charters and resolutions. It is abominable to suggest, as Abbas did, that Palestinians have placed their hope in the UN. Such willing subjugation is nothing other than an admission of defeat, which the Palestinian people will not concede. However, there is an urgent need to call out the duplicity in international organisations, and an even greater imperative for Palestinians to unite behind a leadership that brings the people closer to political involvement. The PA has failed on both counts, as the UN intended it to all along. The best hope for Palestine lies with its people.