The Israeli political establishment is scrambling to save the Palestinian Authority (PA), ruled over by its President Mahmoud Abbas, demonstrating just how counterproductive the Israeli-ally in the West Bank is to the cause for Palestinian liberation.
With protests continuing to take place, over the human rights abuses carried out by the Palestinian Authority, in the West Bank after the killing of well-known dissident Nizar Banat, it seems like the days of President Abbas’s rule are running thin. The death of Nizar Banat, now branded the Palestinian Jamal Khashoggi due the way he was killed, was simply the catalyst for building rage against what is seen as a corrupt regime, doing the bidding of the occupier, by many Palestinians.
As the anti-PA sentiment spreads, it doesn’t seem like the Authority is heading the calls of its people either, yet clearly fears the potential consequences of crossing them again. Immediately after the large-scale demonstrations across the occupied West Bank last month, repressed by PA forces violently, the men of Abbas later took a more hands off approach in order to halt feeding into the rage and were deployed to the entrances of major cities, away from the protests. Although leading Fatah figures, who remain in the Abbas-loyalist camp, often threaten to strike hard at their enemies, the PA quickly requested crowd control equipment from Israel and ran to their occupiers for help.
Embarrassing itself further, the PA announced its intentions to re-enter “direct talks” with Israel, which was done purely to please Western governments as Israel itself is not seeking these talks, according to Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. Instead of entering into a dialogue with the Palestinian Authority however, the Israeli government is considering giving financial relief, in order to keep the ‘security situation in the West Bank stable. This consideration came as a result of the requests made by Hady Amr, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Israel and Palestinian affairs, to increase the Israeli cash flow in order to help the PA stay alive.
Israel’s current Defence Minister, Benny Gantz, openly stated on Twitter last Friday that during a meeting with Michael Ratney, Chargé d’Affaires for the US Embassy in Israel, they discussed “the importance of economic and social initiatives to strengthen the PA”. Furthermore, Gantz had become the first senior Israeli official, in four years, to publicly have made a known direct communication with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, earlier this month.
Researchers from the INSS, an Israeli think-tank, also seem to favour strengthening the PA, according to Yediot Aharonot. This, as Mahmoud Abbas is doing all that is possible to suck up to Israel, like calling Israel’s new President, Isaac Herzog, to congratulate him on his being selected for the position.
Whilst cosying up to the United States and Israel, its biggest allies, the PA has also been targeting the Palestinian press and dissidents, forcibly closing the Ramallah office of ‘J Media’, a Palestinian media organisation.
Some have argued that the PA is at this point moving in a positive direction, due to some believing that coming together with the Israeli government may bring it closer to the prospect of so-called “peace talks”, but nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, the Palestinian Authority is only there to serve Israel, not to form an independent Palestinian State. Even if it wanted to form a State and “make peace”, Israel doesn’t want that and even Yair Lapid has admitted that the prospect of a two-State solution is one he favours, yet it isn’t politically viable and he stated openly before EU diplomats that there’s no point in discussing it.
Additionally, the PA does not truly want a solution itself, it demonstrates this on a daily basis. It has no leverage over Israel and the little leverage it did had was greatly diminished with the “Arab normalisation” deals struck during the Trump administration. If it sought a State, it would have to acquire some leverage for negotiations but refuses to use the most obvious weapon it has, to end its “security coordination” with Israel and to allow armed resistance to manifest in the West Bank.
If Mahmoud Abbas declared an Intifada, turned the guns of his security forces off of his own people and onto the illegally occupying Israeli soldiers and is to stand up for the al-Aqsa Mosque when it comes under attack, not only will he pressure Israel, he will win the support of Palestinians.
The Palestinian people want liberation, they want their human rights, they want protection and the PA only works against their goals. The reason the Palestinian people do not support Abbas is not for economic reasons and it cannot be solved any other way than through showing them that the PA is actually there to serve its own people. At this current moment, it is clear that Mahmoud Abbas protects Israel, does the dirty work for the occupation, enriches himself and a small corrupt elite and attacks/kills his own people.
The reason why Hamas is by far the most popular Palestinian political party has absolutely nothing to do with its charter, its social values, its economic management or anything else other than its commitment to resisting Israeli occupation. Marxists, nationalists, liberals, atheists, Christians and people from all political and religious/irreligious backgrounds support Hamas right now, not as active members, perhaps even as members of other political parties, but as Palestinians who are proud of the group for standing up against the occupation. You cannot fake resistance, you cannot pay off the Palestinian people and no one is fooled by the notion of a “peace process” anymore, the PA is doomed and it is just a matter of time. Its loyalists, those on its payroll, may lash out and threaten the people, but in the end, they fear the inevitable, just as Israel does, that the collapse of the Abbas regime is on its way.