When the Palestinian Authority (PA) was established by the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, it governed the Gaza Strip as well as parts of the West Bank. In 2006, the Hamas takeover of Gaza effectively severed the two territories. Now, writes Sean Durns, there are growing signs that Mahmoud Abbas—the Fatah party leader and PA president—is starting to lose control of the West Bank as well:
An octogenarian in the sixteenth year of a four-year term, Abbas has reacted poorly to the growing dissatisfaction of many Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority hasn’t held elections in sixteen years, and its legislative council hasn’t met in more than a decade. Criticism of the regime is often met with imprisonment, savage beatings, and death threats. Economic conditions are poor, and Abbas has steadfastly refused to end the Palestinian Authority’s policy of paying salaries to terrorists.
The last week has seen West Bank family feuds erupting into violence, and the Palestinian Authority has been unable to stop it. Universities under its rule, such as Hebron University and al-Quds University, have had to close temporarily due to violent brawls and shootings. Several Palestinians have been killed. Neighborhoods and homes have been set on fire. Some residents of Hebron have even appealed to King Abdullah of Jordan to send troops to end the street-fighting, claiming that the Palestinian Authority has “lost control of the situation.”
Hamas believes that the West Bank is ripe for the taking. It might be right.