אבי יששכרוף
Avi Issacharoff
Photo: Tal Shachar
Palestinian youth clash with Israeli forces in Hebron

Israel doesn't have an alternative to Palestinian Authority

Opinion: Rise in frustrated Palestinian youth willing to carry out terror attacks is directly related to lack of governance in West Bank, but only other true alternative to Abbas is full blown occupation - which no Israeli leader wants

Avi Issacharoff |
Published: 09.07.22, 23:25
Outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said on Monday the increase in terror activity in the West Bank is partly due to the incompetence of the Palestinian Authority's security apparatus.
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  • According to Kochavi, this has resulted in "a lack of governance in certain areas of the West Bank." He is correct. There is no doubt that the weakness of PA's security apparatus - and of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' government altogether - is correlated to the increase in violence that we are witnessing in the West Bank over the past few months.
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    עימותים ב חברון
    עימותים ב חברון
    Palestinian youth clash with Israeli forces in Hebron
    (Photo: EPA)
    However, Kochavi failed to acknowledge the bigger question: Why is the PA growing weaker? One of the reasons, unfortunately, is because of Israel.
    Since 2009, when Benjamin Netanyahu was elected prime minister, Israel has been weakening the PA and Abbas' Fatah, and strengthening Hamas.
    The absence of any progress on the diplomatic front, continued settlement construction, and other factors have all led the PA to lose its legitimacy in the eyes of the Palestinian public. Simultaneously, PA's officials themselves are losing motivation to work with Israel on finding a solution, having understood that such a task is impossible, and all that's left to do is manage the conflict.
    The drawbacks of conflict management, however, are now surfacing, and the State of Israel has woken up to find the PA is struggling to function as an authority in large parts of the West Bank. This directly corresponds with a dramatic surge in violence aimed toward the IDF and Israeli civilians.
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    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2013
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2013
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2013
    (Photo: Getty Images)
    Israel, the IDF and the Shin Bet is no longer dealing with a structured organization like Hamas in Gaza or Hezbollah in the north, but with a frustrated and armed youth, who are fed up with the Israeli occupation and with the PA. They do not see signs of political stability, not to mention the economic one, on the horizon.
    This is the main reason for the increase in violence that no one on the Israeli side wants to address.
    If hundreds of armed youth were to operate under the leadership of an orderly terror organization, with a clear-cut hierarchy and commanders, it would be easier for Israel to act against them. Israel could track down the organization's directorate and take it down.
    Had the same youth were following Hamas' orders, we would probably also have witnessed aggressive actions by the PA the terror organization in the West Bank. But the PA is not in a rush to act against "ordinary" frustrated youth, many of whom were formerly part of the Fatah movement and some of whom have relatives in the security apparatus.
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    Northern West Bank city of Jenin
    Northern West Bank city of Jenin
    Northern West Bank city of Jenin
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Attacking Israeli troops during military raids, or carrying out terror attacks is usually done by the young Palestinians spontaneously. The father, son, and cousin who carried out the attack in the Jordan Valley on a bus of Israeli soldiers is a prime example of this.
    In certain cases in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, the Islamic Jihad has partially succeeded in providing financial incentives for the armed youth to carry out terror attacks against Israel. Some Palestinians in Jenin receive between 100-350 NIS to attack Israeli targets. Although the money is Iranian, the motives are not. The terrorists' motivation comes from their own longing for change.
    There is no doubt that part of PA's problems with maintaining governance stem from internal affairs, unrelated to Israel. Its political echelon, headed by Abbas, is perceived as corrupt, rotten, and incapable of functioning in the eyes of most of the public in the West Bank. Despite cooperating with Israelis on security issues, Abbas does not intend on becoming a Zionist any time soon, and will throw Israel under the bus if need be.
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    German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, right, and Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, answer questions from journalists at a press conference after their talks in Berlin, Germany
    German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, right, and Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, answer questions from journalists at a press conference after their talks in Berlin, Germany
    German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, right, and Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, answer questions from journalists at a press conference after their talks in Berlin, Germany
    (Photo: Wolfgang Kumm/dpa via AP)
    The problem Israel is facing right now is that Abbas and the PA are irreplaceable. In other words, Abbas' retirement, or PA's dissolution may lead to the kind of spike in violence we have not seen in many years - if ever.
    Abbas, which many Israelis consider an enemy, is one of the only Palestinian leaders that outright rejects violence and terror.
    In the past few years, Palestinian security forces thwarted hundreds of terror attacks, and many Israelis owe their lives to Abbas and his people. PA security cooperation with Israel has significantly weakened, but not died down all together. But, if Israelis continue to antagonize Abbas, whatever remains of these efforts will no longer persist.
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    אבו מאזן
    אבו מאזן
    Mahmoud Abbas
    (Photo: Reuters)
    The only alternative to the PA is full on Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Not a partial one that leans on the PA, exempting us from governing the lives of 2.8 million of Palestinians, but one with military presence in the heart of Palestinian cities.
    No Israeli leader wants such a thing. Neither Lapid, nor Netanyahu - who had actually mulled getting rid of the PA but never actually did so. While Netanyahu did quite a lot to bolster Hamas, he was smart enough to avoid the destruction of the PA.
    He probably had good enough reasons for that.
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