US struggling to position PA to take control of Gaza Strip

The Palestinians are refusing to bring in new blood to change its corrupt image or to accept the reduced funds Israel transferred to its coffers.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The United States is facing numerous obstacles to implementing its vision of having the Palestinian Authority (PA) retake control of the Gaza Strip on “the day after” the Israel-Hamas war, not the least of which are the PA’s demands for money and statehood in return.

According to a Monday report in The Washington Post citing an anonymous White House official, people from the president’s team have been discussing the possibility with the Palestinians of having a “new government and some fresh blood joining government ranks alongside and under [President Mahmoud] Abbas.”

The PA is resisting the thought even while it knows it has been deeply unpopular in its territory for years, with the situation only growing worse since the war began October 7.

Abbas adviser and Fatah central committee member Sabri Saidam called the American requests part of a colonizer’s thought patterns.

“It’s always this colonizing mentality, whereby, ‘We decide your leadership, we are the ones basically designing your strategy for the day after, we tell you how to live, we tell you how to breathe, and we tell you how to run your land,’” he said.

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Meanwhile, a full 88% of Palestinians in Judea and Samaria want Abbas to resign, while Hamas is looked upon more and more favorably, with a 44% approval rate according to a recent Palestinian poll.

Palestinian officials, according to the report, would only acquiesce if their personnel changes are tied to a well-defined “political horizon” for statehood.

While the Biden administration has made it very clear that it supports the “two-state solution,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it equally clear that he could not countenance such a “mistake,” as he called it, since it would reward an entity that he has blamed for fomenting terror against Israel ever since the Oslo Accords were signed 30 years ago, creating the Palestinian Authority.

There is also a financial side to the equation, as the PA is on the economic ropes.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionists) had begun blocking already in January parts of payments of tax revenues on Palestinian imports/exports and those collected by Israeli employers on behalf of Palestinian employees that are transferred monthly to the PA due to its support for terrorists. (Israeli law demands that whatever amount the PA pays those imprisoned for attacking Israelis must be withheld from the tax revenues.)

Three weeks into the war, in early November, when the next transfer was due, Israel in addition withheld the amount that the PA pays to some Hamas government employees in Gaza, which it has done regularly even after Hamas overthrew its rule there in 2007. The PA also pays some of Gaza’s electricity bills.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan unsuccessfully tried to broker a compromise wherein Israel would check that the recipients weren’t combatants and had nothing to do with the October 7 invasion, in which civilians did participate as part of an impromptu “second wave,” murdering residents and looting the Jewish communities on their border. Smotrich’s response had been that “not one shekel” would go to the “Hamas Nazis” or to families of terrorists imprisoned in Israel.

The PA then refused to accept the funds that Israel was willing to transfer – some $113 million – if it was not going to get the full amount owed it, which has reportedly added up by now to about $140 million.