The Palestinian Authority should not be allowed to govern a post-Hamas Gaza, an idea that has of late been floated by the Biden administration. The P.A. is essentially Hamas without resources; they hold the same antisemitic, rejectionist and violent worldview as Hamas. The Biden administration would do well to drop it as a partner.
The P.A. is a corrupt institution led by Mahmoud Abbas, an 88-year-old “politician” who has refused to hold a presidential election for nearly 19 years. Indeed, since last year, violence has plagued the P.A.-governed West Bank over who will control the territory after Abbas’s death.
Militants associated with Fatah, the P.A.’s governing party, participated in the cross-border massacre of Israelis on Oct. 7. The party has crowed over the butchery that day; Abbas’s deputy in Fatah said: “The blood of [Hamas] heroes will turn into a curse that will remove this occupier.” Another Fatah official called Hamas’ savagery “a heroic operation.”
At the same time, the P.A. has outrageously claimed that the Israeli military murdered nearly 400 partygoers in southern Israel on Oct. 7, not Hamas.
This should come as no surprise. Denial is what the P.A. does best.
He wrote a doctoral dissertation that minimizes the Holocaust—“it is possible that the figure [of Jewish victims] is … below 1 million”—while putting Zionists in the dock for perpetrating the crime. Abbas denies that Jews were murdered in gas chambers, citing Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson.
Earlier this year, Abbas said that the Jewish victims of the Holocaust were “fought because of their social functions related to money, usury.” Yes, “fought,” not “murdered.” Note the antisemitic tropes and the implication: It was the Jews’ fault, not the Nazis.’
Furthermore, the P.A. directly incentivizes terrorism.
Its budget allocates money to pay Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons; this program has been called “pay for slay.” The payments continue after release. Families of dead terrorists also receive funds. The sum of total payments amounts to $300 million a year.
In 2015, Abbas used incendiary language against Jews to propagate “pay for slay”: “Al-Aksa [Temple Mount] is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre [in Jerusalem]. They [Jews] have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet. We won’t allow them to do so, and we will do whatever we can to defend Jerusalem.” Abbas also said that “every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem is pure, every martyr will reach paradise, and every injured person will be rewarded by God.”
The language is indistinguishable from that of Hamas.
These words had deadly consequences. They led directly to the “stabbing intifada,” a months-long wave of knife attacks in 2015 against Jews.
In a 2016 speech, Abbas made a blood libel against Israeli rabbis, accusing them of plotting to poison water used by Palestinians.
The P.A. is not interested in peace with Israel.
Abbas refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The goal of the P.A., as with Hamas, is a Palestine “from the river to the sea.” On this, Abbas’s predecessor, PLO chief Yasser Arafat, was very clear.
This is why the Oslo Accords were followed by a campaign of suicide bombings. It is why Arafat rejected an offer of statehood at Camp David in 2000 and launched the Second Intifada in September of that year. It is why Abbas similarly rejected a 2008 offer of statehood.
The P.A., therefore, cannot be allowed to control Gaza. It incentivizes terrorism, promulgates antisemitism and refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
A better alternative would be for the Arab states willing to recognize Israel to have a say in Gaza’s future. They would have to acknowledge Israel’s legitimate security needs while exploring what type of governing entity and structure will be put in place. A sea change in Palestinian society must also occur.
Partnering with the P.A. has been a failed approach. It is time for a realistic appraisal of the circumstances and a major course correction.