RNA - After vetoing UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ pick as his Special Representative in Libya, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Washington was “disappointed” to see a letter indicating Fayyad would be appointed for the role.
This is not surprising. Rhetoric aside, the US always supports Israel’s policies, including its illegal occupation, isolation of Palestinians, and other violations of International Humanitarian Law. It supports Israel’s criminal policies financially, militarily, and diplomatically. To be sure:
- Consecutive US administrations have been open in their opposition to the UN’s seeming sympathy towards Palestine. The Trump administration is no exception. It has threatened to withhold US funding to the UN unless the world body takes Israel’s side and interests into consideration in any matter related to Palestine. This is important, for the US provides 22 percent of the UN budget, making it the largest single member state contributor.
- It is wrong to describe the turn of events as a “loss for the peace process” or a blow to the Palestinians’ new-found “role” in international affairs. They never had such a role to play in the first place. In its familiar form the peace process is, however, worse than that. It has caused real damage and will continue to do so if not fundamentally changed. In fact, the American conduct of the peace process is for wasting time. It doesn’t seek to solve the problem, and it sometimes makes it substantially worse.
- The silly approach to the peace process has harmed Palestinian interests by wasting the most valuable commodity they possess: Resistance. It has done harm as well by diverting attention from the real cause of the conflict – Israel’s refusal to end occupation and accept the legitimacy and permanence of Palestine - thereby reducing the already small chance of ending it. Worst of all, the fake peace process has obstructed a settlement of the conflict by supporting the current Israeli strategy of building new illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian lands.
- While sometimes acknowledging in private that it would not bring peace, American peace processors have nonetheless justified continuing their support for the fake talks on the grounds that it serves American interests by making it possible to have good relations with Arab governments while at the same time sustaining close ties with Israel. According to this policy, the Americans could tell the Arab rulers, and those rulers could tell their fervently anti-Zionist publics, that Washington is, after all, working to address their grievances.
- US policy has always been to support the falsity of these diplomatically accepted narratives in order to avoid contradicting the Palestinians and arousing the wrath of the Arab and Muslim nations. This longstanding American willingness to put reality aside to try to encourage negotiations has been unsuccessful thus far, and has become increasingly harmful to the Muslim world in general and the Palestinians in particular.
No vote in the impotent echo chamber of the UN can change any of these facts. What will come of this constellation of events is hard to predict, but history appears to be teaching the Palestinians another tough lesson: diplomatic success and international appointments when not backed by military and political effectiveness does not help you much in the long run.
As previously, the United States will remain Israel’s closest ally both for strategic reasons as a partner in the Middle East and due to political support for Israel in Washington. This support comes in part from the Zionist lobby in the US. It also comes from groups such as Christians United for Israel, which is calling to defund the United Nations.
In the opposite direction, Palestine has been a non-member observer state at the UN since 2012. In a symbolic gesture, the UN began flying the Palestinian flag in September 2015, alongside the Holy See – Vatican – which is also an observer state. The Palestinians cannot manage this alone. Some say any peace deal, let alone sending “peace envoy” to Libya, must have the concerted backing of key Arab states to hold.
The problem is, the last few years have seen a catastrophic decline in the power of Palestinian “allies” to affect events on the ground. The Sunni Arabs led by Saudi Arabia, the most natural if always self-interested and undependable allies of the Palestinian cause, are so weak and divided that they look to Israel as their defender against Iran! And who is Iran? The genuine backer of the Palestinians under all types of conditions throughout the last four decades.
The incapacity of the United Nations to do anything concrete has never been more obvious either; ask former Prime Minister Fayyad. By saying no to his appointment as peace envoy to Libya, the message by the Trump administration and Arab allies is clear: They are shifting toward a pro-Likud orientation in their Israel policy against Iran. They have all broken from the tradition of sympathy for the Palestinians. Their identification with Israel will perpetuate Palestinian weakness and division in the international arena.