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Seth Eisenberg
Freedom matters

Time for U.S. to Face the Inconvenient Truth about the Palestinian Authority

Yitzhak Rabin, Bill Clinton and Yasser Arafat at the Oslo Accords signing ceremony on 13 September 1993 (White House Photo; Public Domain).

The Times of Israel reports that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s stance on the Palestinian Authority governing Gaza is harming American efforts to rally Arab support. There’s ample reason to believe that’s inaccurate.

Unlike the Biden Administration, few Arab leaders are motivated by election cycles. They know the Palestinian Authority’s ability to successfully govern Gaza is even more remote than the diminishing likelihood the authority will win broad support among West Bank Palestinians.

In a report Friday, Steven Erlanger of the New York Times asks the question, “Can the Palestinian Authority Really Govern Gaza After the War?

Based on current Palestinian public opinion, the answer is a resounding no!

The Americans talk with the rhetoric of 30 years ago. But we live in a different reality. If we had a fair election, Hamas would win, and more now.

“The Palestinian Authority doesn’t figure in people’s minds,” a leading West Bank Palestinian politician told Erlanger.

“The Americans talk with the rhetoric of 30 years ago,” the chief executive of Jerusalem Pharmaceuticals said. “But we live in a different reality. If we had a fair election, Hamas would win, and more now.”

A prominent Palestinian pollster revealed that “66 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank view the authority as a burden.”

“Some 85 percent want [Palestinian Authority President] Mr. Abbas to resign – and that means ‘more than 60 percent of his own rank-and-file Fatah want him to go,’” the pollster told the New York Times.

It just boggles the mind. It’s 1990s thinking that can no longer be revived.

“Mr. Biden has done next to nothing for Mr. Abbas or the authority,” said a former lawyer for the PLO, “And now here we are, and suddenly he’s their hope. It just boggles the mind. It’s 1990s thinking that can no longer be revived.”

None of this will likely come as any surprise to President Biden and administration officials. So why is the Administration speaking of the Palestinian Authority as a legitimate option for either the West Bank or Gaza when they know it isn’t?

The most likely answer is because they’re married to policies based on the Oslo Accords that have failed for the past 30 years and don’t want to publicly admit to the American people (and the rest of the world) that the two-state strategy built around a corrupt, inept Palestinian Authority is a non-starter both for the Palestinians and Israel.

The challenges facing Israelis and Palestinians will not be resolved in one election cycle or two.

The challenges facing Israelis and Palestinians will not be resolved in one election cycle or two, yet Democratic Administrations in particular have continued to pursue the ultimate public relations coup despite realities on the ground.

That’s not only a problem for US policymakers and Israel; it’s also a misnomer promoted by other politicians and America’s closest western allies.

When Mr. Netanyahu speaks candidly, he’s labeled a right-wing extremist who is against peace with the Palestinians. The reality is that he’s a pragmatist who’s more likely than any other current Israeli politician to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict and, ultimately, Israel’s challenges with the Palestinians.

When Gazans were given a choice between the Palestinian Authority or Hamas in 2007, long before the Palestinian Authority’s level of ineptitude, corruption, or inability to negotiate a Palestinian state was well known, Palestinians chose Hamas.

They didn’t choose Hamas in 2007 because they knew the Palestinian Authority would never achieve the goal of an independent Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace with Israel. They rejected the Palestinian Authority because, like Hamas, a majority of Palestinian voters did not accept Israel’s existence under any terms.

With generations of Palestinians deliberately raised from the youngest age to hate Israel and the Jewish People, that should come as no surprise. It will also take generations to prepare the Palestinians to live in peace with the Jewish State.

America’s history with Puerto Rico offers a more analogous example.

Despite gaining control of Puerto Rico as a result of the 1898 Spanish-American war, it took America generations to resolve the island’s relationship with the United States, a challenge that remain incomplete until today; Puerto Rico has no elected representatives or senators in the U.S. Congress.

Paving the way for Israelis and Palestinians to make peace must begin with removing incitement against Israel from the Palestinian educational system, media, and nurturing a new generation that is not infected with hatred for Jews and the Jewish State.

It must include stopping the idolization of Palestinians who murder Jews and replacing a Palestinian Authority that has financially rewarded Palestinians based on the number of Jews they killed.

Normalization between Israel and the wider Arab world will be an important step forward in demonstrating to Palestinians everywhere that Israel will not be destroyed and that there are tangible benefits to nations that recognize and cooperate with the Jewish State.

Arab support for both post-Hamas Gaza and Arab-Israeli normalization is more likely with an America that is realistic, honest, and committed for the long term. It’s past time for the U.S. to face the inconvenient truth about the Palestinian Authority.

About the Author
Seth Eisenberg is President of the PAIRS Foundation, a former At-Large chair of the National Writers Union, elected labor leader, and pro-Israel activist. He is an author of Instructions for Intimacy, The Laundry List of Relationship Mishaps, Knots and Double Binds, PAIRS Essentials, Warrior to Soul Mate, PAIRS for PEERS, and the SHALOM Workshop. He can be reached via LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/setheisenberg/.
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