Study: Collapse of the PA may not be so bad

Predictions of disaster if the Palestinians shut down their ruling authority appear to be overblown.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A report by top security experts says that Israel does not have to fear threats by the Palestinians to shut down the Palestinian Authority, Israel Hayom reported Thursday.

The report by the Bitchonistim [security advocates], a group of retired top IDF officers and security officials, says the economic costs of such scenario are not so high and functioning alternatives could be put into place.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested the report from the group two months ago, several weeks before the announcement of the breakthrough Israel-UAE peace deal. At the time, the issue of applying Israeli sovereignty over settlements in Judea and Samaria was still on the table and the Palestinians had threatened retaliatory measures if Israel went through with the process.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah organization have on numerous occasions threatened to walk away from the Palestinian Authority, which controls most of the Palestinian towns and cities in Judea and Samaria. The study concluded that if that would happen, better alternatives would be available to replace it.

One of the top experts among the Bitchonistim is former head of the IDF Intelligence Directorate’s Research Division Brig. Gen. (ret.) Yossi Kuperwasser, who has closely followed the Palestinian leadership for decades.

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“It is in Israel’s best interest that the Palestinian Authority remain intact, [but] its dissolution in part or in full will present alternatives that are not much worse,” Kuperwasser said.

Kuperwasser said the group looked at five possible scenarios that could replace what the Palestinian Authority does today. Those include the termination of all PA activity; a suspension of PA activity; the transfer of government to local authorities from the central PA government based in Ramallah; a succession leadership struggle in the post-Abbas era, and a takeover of the West Bank by the Hamas terror group that seized control of Gaza from Fatah in a bloody 2007 military coup.

However, the report said the chances of any of those scenarios coming true are low, because there is too much international pressure on the PA to continue ruling.

“Domestic and international pressure – by the Europeans and the Democrats in the US, as well as by the pragmatic Arab states – would push it to resume its rule,” Kuperwasser said.

If Israel were forced to take over the PA’s activities, as it did before the 1993, it would manage to fund the move with the taxes it currently collects and forwards to the PA, although paying to keep the Palestinian security forces going would add a major extra cost.

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Kuperwasser criticized the notion that the PA must be kept at all costs, saying Israel was “addicted” to the idea.

He was backed by Bitchonistim colleague Brig. Gen. (res.) Amir Aviv, who told the paper that Israel “must be ready and have contingencies in place to deal with the possibility that the Palestinian Authority dissolves. There are better alternatives [to the PA’s rule] that won’t undermine Israel’s interests and won’t require it to rule the Palestinian people.”