Professor traces impact of British Mandate, Oslo Accords on Palestinian statehood

Khaled Al-Hroub, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at Northwestern University in Qatar, gave a lecture on the impact of colonial powers on Palestinian statehood, and the historic plan to delegitimize the Palestinian quest for independence, at Birzeit University on Thursday, October 4, 2018. 

Organized by the Ibrahim Abu-Lughod Institute of International Studies, “The Palestinian State: From Churchill to Trump” was attended by students and professors alike, with Al-Hroub drawing historical similarities between the current Palestinian political situation and the conditions during the British Mandate era. 

Al-Hroub began his lecture by tracing the roots of the Oslo Accords to British plans during the mandate era, which proposed dividing Palestine between Jewish settlers and “the Arabs,” as they were referred to in order to undermine any Palestinian nationhood status. 

When meeting Palestinian delegates, Churchill never addressed them as representatives of the Palestinian people, Al-Hroub observed. Instead, Churchill insisted that all meetings were personal in nature, so as not to concede that Palestinians were able to assemble and displayed characteristics of nationhood. 

“The League of Nations, the United Nation’s precursor, allowed major nations to control and govern smaller nations, ostensibly for the betterment of their economies, policies, and governance,” said Al-Hroub. “That was in theory. What happened on the ground was a completely different outcome.” 

The British Mandate of Palestine’s preamble, for instance, states that the mandate’s mission is to facilitate the establishment of a home for the Jews in Palestine, noted Al-Hroub, who added that the mandate was the result of a consensus at the League of Nations. The Palestinians were fighting both the Zionist movement and the League of Nations. 

“The British systematically propped up the Jewish state with support for state organizations, banking institutions, and a security apparatus, while at the same time undermining Palestinian political assemblies and financial systems,” remarked Al-Hroub. 

Al-Hroub pointed to the British mandate authorities’ attempts to drive a wedge between Palestinian leaders, who were already in a confused state as to the direction that Palestinian resistance should take, i.e., whether to focus their efforts on countering the British Mandate or the Zionist takeover. 

“The agreements, talks, and legal instruments from the British Mandate all the way to the Oslo Accords all sought to establish an Israeli state on Palestinian lands while granting Palestinians what amounts to autonomous self-rule in virtually all cases,” said Al-Hroub, who remarked that the Israeli Occupation is the result of an intersection of colonial and global interests. 

Al Hroub presented the Camp David Accords and Oslo Accords as two examples of international peace agreements where the intention was not to establish just and fair policies and apply them, but to ensure that Palestinians would never achieve statehood, and only maneuver within the confines of autonomous self-rule.