The Coming Crisis of the Palestinian Authority, and What Israel Can Do about It

On Sunday, the Central Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) appointed two loyal followers of its chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, to key positions within the organization, and ensured the continued dominance of his Fatah faction. Abbas is eighty-six years old, in the eighteenth year of his four-year term as president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and faces declining popularity. Yohanan Tzoreff explains that these appointments signal to Palestinians that Abbas is “giving up on public legitimacy and nullifying it as a source of authority for his camp,” by shutting out his political rivals and, by extension, their supporters.

The decisions will also be interpreted as tying his fate and the fate of his rule to Israel and the international community—or some part thereof—and with Arab countries that for a while now are eager for quiet from the direction of the Palestinians. This would in effect be opening a broad new front vis-à-vis the Palestinian public, which is disillusioned and yearns for change, and with respect to the Palestinian factions that are part of the opposition. These could be joined by the factions of Mohammed Dahlan, Marwan Barghouti, and other disheartened Fatah figures, who are harmed by the decisions, which in effect leave them without a political home.

In such a reality, the pressure exerted on the West Bank by Hamas from the Gaza Strip and from within the West Bank itself could increase, with the aim of stirring up the population and increasing the protests against the Palestinian Authority and Israel. If many disillusioned figures and factions join this effort, it could arouse a large portion of the public, full of antagonism toward the PA and its security apparatuses. This would test and gradually erode the loyalty that these forces currently display toward the Palestinian Authority, as they would be accused of collaborating with Israel.

In this case much pressure would fall on Israel’s shoulders, not only as the ruler of the West Bank but also the patron of the Palestinian Authority. The use of attacks and terrorism could increase and the security of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank would require reinforcements and control of territories for the purpose of security and defense. Such a development could return Israel to the places that it left before the Oslo process and in certain areas even to go back to ruling over Palestinian populations.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Israeli Security, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, PLO

Reforms to Israel’s Judiciary Must Be Carefully Calibrated

The central topic of debate in Israel now is the new coalition government’s proposed reforms of the nation’s judiciary and unwritten constitution. Peter Berkowitz agrees that reform is necessary, but that “the proper scope and pace of reform, however, are open to debate and must be carefully calibrated.”

In particular, Berkowitz argues,

to preserve political cohesiveness, substantial changes to the structure of the Israeli regime must earn support that extends beyond these partisan divisions.

In a deft analysis of the conservative spirit in Israel, bestselling author Micah Goodman warns in the Hebrew language newspaper Makor Rishon that unintended consequences flowing from the constitutional counterrevolution are likely to intensify political instability. When a center-left coalition returns to power, Goodman points out, it may well repeal through a simple majority vote the major changes Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition seeks to enact. Or it may use the legislature’s expanded powers, say, to ram through laws that impair the religious liberty of the ultra-Orthodox. Either way, in a torn nation, constitutional counterrevolution amplifies division.

Conservatives make a compelling case that balance must be restored to the separation of powers in Israel. A prudent concern for the need to harmonize Israel’s free, democratic, and Jewish character counsels deliberation in the pursuit of necessary constitutional reform.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Judicial Reform