It appears that Joe Biden’s administration is attempting to force Israel into a return to the not-quite-as-bad-old-days in Gaza by giving the administration of the area to the Palestinian Authority. The Editors of the New York Sun criticize this approach, writing:
Mahmoud Abbas to Gaza? As Israel fights for its life, President Biden increasingly beseeches Israel to think of the “day after.” Yet Washington’s vision of that future is filled with outdated clichés that do little to address post-October 7 Middle East realities. Administration officials admit that Hamas can no longer rule the Gaza strip. Yet they warn Israel against “reoccupation.” Instead, their candidate to take future control is the Palestinian Authority.
“It is clear that Israel cannot occupy Gaza,” Secretary Blinken said at Tokyo today. East Asia is his latest stop in an endless world tour, where he is yet to express a coherent American position on the war. The dreaded “O” word is the latest of his misunderstanding of Israel’s intentions. Prime Minister Netanayahu said on NBC this week that Israel will have to maintain a security presence in the strip for an “indefinite period.”
Mr. Blinken allowed that “there may be a need for some transition period at the end of the conflict” in which the IDF would remain to assure that Gaza would no longer threaten Israel’s southern communities. Yet Mr. Blinken told reporters that a “sustained peace” must include the “Palestinian people’s” aspirations at the center of post-crisis Gaza. It “must,” he hectored, “include Palestinian-led governance and Gaza unified with the West Bank.”
All “under the Palestinian Authority.” Meaning a corrupt, inept, and widely despised Ramallah-based “authority,” known as the PA, is the magic elixir to all the ailments that have plagued Gaza for decades. It strikes us as a return to the early part of the century, when America believed in magically transforming Arab societies into thriving Scandinavian-style democracies. Instead, it paved the way for Hamas to control Gaza.
That came after Prime Minister Sharon forcefully ended Israel’s presence there in 2005. Against Sharon’s wishes, President George W. Bush pushed for regional elections in the territories. Turned out Gazan voters preferred Hamas’s bogus promise of charity for all over the corrupt PA-dominating Fatah Party. What followed, in 2006, was a Palestinian version of implementing an election “mandate” — Hamas operatives shot and tortured their Fatah rivals.
As an exclamation point, Hamas tossed many of their rivals from rooftops, so Gazans would know who is their new boss. In the West Bank, the Fatah leader, Mr. Abbas, was elected in 2005 to serve as president of the Palestinian Authority. No election has been held since then, and as of 2023 Mr. Abbas’s four-year term is yet to expire. The PA’s security services under him exert diminished powers anywhere in the West Bank beyond Ramallah.
Even there, Fatah’s control is wobbly. Israel and America help in preventing a complete collapse of the Palestinian Authority and its security forces. Mr. Abbas’s family members and his allies control the territory’s economic infrastructure, leading to an ever-widening local disenchantment with his PA. Palestinian and Israeli pollsters say that if elections were conducted in the West Bank tomorrow, Hamas would win by wide margins.
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