For some time, the Palestinian Authority has been failing to keep the peace in the refugee camps under its control; there have even been gunfights between PA security forces and militants, some of whom belong to a wing of Mahmoud Abbas’s own Fatah faction. This breakdown of order, writes Evelyn Gordon, says much about the prospects of Palestinian statehood:
[T]he refugee camps are precisely the kind of open sore that Palestinian statehood is theoretically supposed to solve.
In reality, however, the PA has done nothing for the refugees. More than two decades after the PA’s establishment, the refugees’ schooling, healthcare, and welfare allowances are still provided for and funded wholly by UNRWA, the UN agency created especially for this purpose. Or, to be more precise, by the Western countries that fund most of UNRWA’s budget. Nor has the PA moved a single refugee into better housing. And this isn’t because Israel has somehow prevented it from doing so; most of the refugee camps are located in Area A, the part of the West Bank under full Palestinian control. . . .
Moreover, this neglect is quite deliberate: the PA doesn’t see the refugees as citizens to be served, but as a weapon aimed at Israel. They are kept in miserable conditions for the express purpose of creating sympathy for the Palestinian demand that they all be relocated to Israel, thereby eradicating its Jewish majority. . . . Palestinian officials have said quite openly that the refugees will never be granted citizenship in a Palestinian state. . .
In other words, Palestinian statehood now won’t solve a single problem, but assuredly will create a lot of new ones.