I know that world leaders like Joe Biden need to have diplomatic things to say about the conflict between Hamas and Israel and Palestinians and Jews, but it’s hard to believe that anyone seriously thinks that the Palestinian Authority will ever run Gaza, let alone an imaginary sovereign Palestinian state carved out of Israel or the West Bank.
Hamas vanquished Fatah and the PA 16 years ago and has an iron grip on the Strip. Unless Hamas is completely obliterated, there is no scenario in which they relinquish power. Who’s going to make them, the United Nations?
What’s more likely is that Israel will weaken but not defeat Hamas entirely, and that when the fighting stops, we will be back to a pre-withdrawal status quo, with Israel’s military stationed in Gaza for years to come and the world clamoring for that peaceful, two-state solution that’s about as likely as Palestinians landing on the moon.
Handing over the Strip to the PA also ignores Israel’s important role in deciding the future of Gaza. Again, unless Israel completely destroys Hamas, Israel won’t have the power to install its preferred leadership.
It’s too early for Israel to fully articulate it’s own vision for a postwar Gaza, because too much is uncertain. Obviously, the biggest uncertainty is how and when the war will end. Just as uncertain is who Israel’s leaders will be at that time and what the political mood of the country will be.
What’s for certain though is that Israel is done propping up Hamas, a deal with the devil that surely funded some of Hamas’s terrorist capabilities. Another certainty is that IDF leadership will have to defend its actions leading up to the Oct. 7 pogrom and then its conduct of the war since then. Rebuilding and fortifying the border between Gaza and Israel will be a high priority. By the time this war is over, Israel’s economy will likely be hurting, so economic assistance from both domestic and international sources will be needed.
And yes, at some point Israel will want to see different Palestinian leadership in Gaza than the terrorists of Hamas or the ineffective Mahmoud Abbas and the PA, and it may have the power to influence a change. It would be great for the region and the world if some actual Palestinian statesmen and women (!) emerged to negotiate peacefully with Israel, but I’m not holding my breath.
But to suggest that what we now know as the PA will play a significant role in Gaza is truly laughable. They can’t even do a good job caring for Arabs living in the West Bank, which is mostly a peaceful place despite the sporadic violence sparked by Israeli expansionists (I refuse to call them “settlers” – what are they settling except old scores?). How are they supposed to govern one of the most unruly, densely packed and economically challenged places on Earth?
Got any other ideas, President Biden?