OpinionIsrael at War

Will new lipstick on the PA fool Congress?

P.A. head Mahmoud Abbas has just named all 26 members of his new government, as well as new policies—which make Biden’s hopes look like a far-fetched fantasy. 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Jan. 10, 2024. Credit: Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Jan. 10, 2024. Credit: Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.
Jason Shvili
Jason Shvili
Jason Shvili is a contributing editor at Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.

The Biden administration, hoping to spur support for its tattered dream of a two-state solution, has exhorted the corrupt, antisemitic Palestinian Authority to “revitalize” itself.

Quick quiz: After reading the following words, how convinced are you that the Palestinians have cleaned up their act and want peace with Israel?

“O servants of Allah, be the ones through which Allah will afflict the Jews with the worst torment.” 

This prayer was uttered by Muhammad Mustafa Najem, incoming P.A. Religious Affairs Minister in the recently “revitalized” P.A.

Unfortunately, P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas has just named all 26 members of his new government, as well as new policies—which make Biden’s hopes look like a far-fetched fantasy. 

But Team Biden’s entire strategy to reform the P.A.—polish up its corrupt image, boost its credentials to run the Gaza Strip after Israel destroys Hamas and eventually form a Palestinian state—was futile from the beginning. Their plan outlined no specific policy or leadership criteria for a renewed P.A., let alone demanding that its 88-year-old dictator Abbas resign. 

Indeed, if the latest rotation is indicative, little will change. By all appearances, the new P.A. cabinet is purely cosmetic and still accountable exclusively to Abbas, now in the 19th disastrous year of his four-year term. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the P.A.’s cabinet reshuffling as nothing more than “musical chairs.” 

The new cabinet contains mostly “technocrats” who have obediently served Abbas in the past, as well as several members with a history of support for terrorism and outright antisemitism. In addition, despite some new window dressing, it appears the P.A.’s notorious “pay-for-slay” policy, which rewards terrorists, will remain intact. 

Perhaps most damning, the P.A. totally lacks legitimacy in the eyes of Palestinians. The majority of Palestinians want the infamously corrupt P.A. dissolved and even more want Abbas to resign. Moreover, the P.A. security forces are demonstrably incapable of maintaining order in Judea and Samaria—aka the “West Bank”—let alone in Gaza.

The Biden administration’s attempt to make over the execrable P.A. is no doubt a ploy to convince Congress to resume funding to it. It also seeks to fortify the sagging credibility among Americans and European of its hapless two-state-solution campaign. 

Suffice it to say, this transparent effort to put lipstick on a pig is unlikely to convince any of those constituencies—the Palestinian people, Congress, American voters, European leaders and certainly not Israelis, who have directly suffered Abbas’s duplicitous terror-mongering for nearly two decades. 

Although most of the new cabinet members are technocrats, all were approved by Abbas. The new prime minister, Mohammad Mustafa, is a former adviser to Abbas and a long-time insider. Abbas himself stressed that the government is accountable to the PLO and its political platform—which he controls.

“All of the indications are that this government is completely under Abu Mazen’s [Abbas’s] thumb,” said Ghaith al-Omari, a former adviser to the P.A. leader. He added, “There’s nothing to show that there will be a change of policy.” 

Moreover, inasmuch as a technocratic government may sound better than a political one, it is actually just a way of giving legitimacy to a body that still supports terrorism. The “technocrat” label gives thin cover to members of Congress who were too embarrassed to continue funding the Abbas thugocracy.

Those senators and representatives will no doubt be distressed to learn the new cabinet still contains confirmed antisemites and terror supporters. One, as mentioned, is Najem, who asserts Jews are “characterized by conceit, pride, arrogance, rioting, disloyalty, and treachery,” and that “Allah turned them into apes and pigs.”  

Another new cabinet member, Women’s Affairs Minister Muna al-Khalili, praised a 1978 bus hijacking, during which 37 people were murdered, including 12 children, as a “quality resistance operation.” She also justified Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre by saying that Palestinians had the right to “resist”—a euphemism for jihadist terror. 

Furthermore, rather than abandon its despicable pay-for-slay policy, the P.A. is looking for ways to hide it via a bureaucratic shell game, while satisfying Team Biden’s call for reforms. Proposed schemes include awarding prisoners with points for social security payments through the P.A.’s welfare system or giving terrorists a grant to establish a business, then transferring the terrorist stipends through a phony non-profit. Basically, pay-for-slay will continue with some logistical slight-of-hand. 

Let’s also note that the P.A. has dramatically enlarged the pay-for-slay program by adding 3,550 terrorists who have been imprisoned in Israel since the since Oct. 7 massacre. 

The P.A. has held no elections since 2006. While Abbas has announced new elections, he hasn’t specified a date. We’ve heard such “plans” before from Abbas, only to have him cancel them. According to a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research late last year, 60% of Palestinians want the P.A. dissolved and 92% want Abbas to resign.

Palestinians also have little trust in the P.A.’s security forces, which answer to Abbas. Their control over wide swaths of their territory in Judea and Samaria (aka, the West Bank) is shaky, allowing terrorist militias to rampage freely in major cities like Nablus and Jenin. How can the United States—let alone the Palestinian people—expect the P.A. to enforce rule of law amid the mayhem in Gaza? 

Revitalization of the P.A. must start at the top—not with new makeup. Regardless of superficial cabinet shuffles by the doddering dictator Abbas, he will still control all the levers of power. The Israeli government understands this, which is why they have repeatedly declared that the P.A. will not be allowed to govern Gaza “the day after.” 

The Biden administration is deluding itself—though probably not fooling Congress and the American people—if it thinks the P.A., with its current leadership and unshaken commitment to Israel’s destruction, can be “revitalized.”

Originally published by Facts and Logic About the Middle East.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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