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Ramona Wadi

A fragmented Palestinian resistance

Palestinian protesters continue to be injured or murdered by Israeli forces on the border [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 December, 2018

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Comment: Mainstream narratives justify a web of political violence against Palestinian resistance, writes Ramona Wadi.
Whether in Gaza or the occupied West Bank, Israel has perfected its strategy of normalising violence against Palestinians. 

As attention shifts away from the Great Return March protests in Gaza, in which participants continue to be injured or murdered by Israeli forces on the border, there is a lull in the frenzied reporting about Palestinians in mainstream media.

This despite the fact that Israel has now included the occupied West Bank as direct target, accelerating its settlement expansion, home demolitions, the targeting of Palestinians involved in resistance activities and airstrikes in Ramallah.  

Since Israeli forces killed three Palestinian men within the span of six hours in the occupied West Bank, Palestinians have responded with protests. Unsurprisingly, there is little coverage of the events in mainstream media, while Israel is managing the entire narrative for the international community.

What resonates most in the coverage is the elimination of Palestinian resistance in the occupied West Bank. Palestinians speak of resistance as a collective effort, while Israel, the UN, the Palestinian Authority and the international community fragment Palestinian resistance with the intent of separating the common aims of Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

It also puts Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in a more perilous position due to the fact that the PA has, on every occasion, modified resistance into popular resistance to distance itself from the anti-colonial struggle that is embraced by most Palestinians.

Palestinians speak of resistance as a collective effort, while Israel, the UN, the Palestinian Authority and the international community fragment Palestinian resistance with the intent of separating the common aims of Gaza and the occupied West Bank

If it calls for Palestinians to step up its resistance against Israeli forces, the PA also provides no protection for Palestinians on the street and turns its forces against Palestinians, as happened on several occasions.  

Hence, any form of resistance that does not fall within the parameters outlined by the PA and endorsed by the international community immediately brings a distinction that enables the leadership in Ramallah to endorse and dissociate from, depending on political gain.

With that opportunistic ploy, the differentiation between Palestinian resistance in Gaza and the occupied West Bank no longer departs from the different forms of colonial violence Palestinians face. It is Hamas' political marginalisation within the international community and the PA's unquestioned representation of Palestinians at an international level.

The international refusal to consider Hamas as a political representative of Palestinians interferes with the projection and dissemination of Palestinian resistance. At Israel's behest, the international community, through the UN is becoming bolder in asserting its preference for a PA return to Gaza.

It is no longer a case of supporting Israel's purported right to defend itself – a clause which the UN includes every time it condemns the settler-colonial state's violence.

Now the international narrative has shifted from Israel to Hamas, and the PA is contributing towards maintaining this new paradigm. Hamas endorses anti-colonial struggle. The PA only supports popular, non-violent resistance which is acceptable to the international community.

When the international community turns its attention towards Palestinian resistance in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, it will prioritise Gaza's resistance in terms of visibility, rather than continuity. On the other hand, the occupied West Bank's resistance will find itself tethered first and foremost to the dictates of Mahmoud Abbas.

Gaza's Great Return March protests garnered much attention internationally until it became a routine occurrence, at which point the focus shifted back to Hamas and the Palestinian Authority's attempts to take control of the enclave.

When the international community turns its attention towards Palestinian resistance in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, it will prioritise Gaza's resistance in terms of visibility, rather than continuity

The recent brief bombing of Gaza by Israel was also short-lived in terms of media prominence, despite the high toll of displaced Palestinians in such a brief timespan.

In the occupied West Bank, Palestinian resistance has been manipulated by the PA. Security coordination, which the PA has said on several occasions it has halted but which Palestinians have disputed, resulted in mass persecution that plays directly into Israel's aims.  

Indeed, Abbas recently met Shin Bet's chief to ask him to retain security coordination with the PA's security forces to curb the current attacks in the West Bank, which he attributed solely to Hamas.

In addition, the stifling of freedom by the PA and Israel has resulted in a different form of resistance in the occupied West Bank – one that retaliates as a reaction to perpetual state and settler terror, rather than resembling Gaza's collective, affirmative expression.

If Palestinian resistance in the occupied West Bank surpasses the parameters set by the PA, it is also likely that a differentiation will occur in terms of labelling. Gaza, due to Hamas's marginalisation, will be associated with terror. The West Bank, on the other hand, will be characterised by individuals carrying out attacks or killings and the PA as the political entity that offers an alternative to what the media portrays as violence.

As a result, mainstream narratives will ultimately justify not only Israel's violence, but also the PA's authoritarian rule, in particular its targeting of Palestinians involved in resistance activities.

There are two aims behind this manipulation of Palestinian resistance. One is to eliminate Israel's role as an instigator which requires Palestinians to resist due to its presence in historic Palestine and its colonial policies. Much of the background work for this has already been accomplished through the international community's accommodating Israel's security and terror narratives.

The other aim, which is valuable to the international community, is to preserve the PA's façade within its platform. As long as there is no international recognition of the fact that Palestinian resistance in the occupied West Bank is directed against Israel and the PA's complicity, the PA and the UN can continue to sell the lie that Palestinians in both areas have different outlooks on resistance. The obstacle becomes resistance, so that diplomacy can engage itself in continuing Palestine's colonisation.

Resistance will continue to be reported for sensationalist purposes. Therefore, consistency as regards Palestinian resistance will not be found in mainstream narratives. This intermittent focus, which lacks both historical and current Palestinian perspectives, maintains the balance required to falsely promote the PA as a pragmatic leadership, while the Palestinian people are further removed from their political rights.

Within the context of Palestinian resistance, the international community's refusal to recognise Palestinians' political rights has led to a situation where resistance is constantly defined from Israel's perspective. Hence the convenient initial furore over Palestinian resistance, in order to portray Israel as retaliating to purported provocation.


Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger specialising in the struggle for memory in Chile and Palestine, colonial violence and the manipulation of international law. 

Follow her on Twitter: @walzerscent


Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.

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