A February meeting of the Palestinian Central Council revealed that Palestinian leaders are overwhelmed by governing challenges. The council—a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) body that has assumed many of the responsibilities of the moribund Palestinian parliament—had until then not met since 2018. As David May and Abdel Abdelrahman write, its leaders called for “a halt to security ties until Israel recognizes a Palestinian state.” May and Abdel Abdelrahman analyze the consequences of such a decision:
Israeli security officials estimate that in 2016 alone, such coordination resulted in the safe return of at least 300 Israelis who wandered into Palestinian territory. It has also prevented countless terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens.
Israel-Palestinian security coordination is also indispensable for the Palestinian Authority (PA). Without it, the Hamas terrorist organization could run rampant in the West Bank, a bloody prospect for the territory’s three million Palestinians. The PA has relied heavily on Israel to help maintain order ever since Hamas ousted Fatah from Gaza in their 2007 civil war. The Palestinians remain divided between the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and the Fatah-ruled West Bank. Hamas cells in the West Bank have stoked Fatah’s fears of being dislodged.
Unfortunately, the PA can no longer rely on political leadership or largesse from regional Arab states. In 2020, Arab donations to the PA decreased by 85 percent. In 2021, the United Nations estimated that the PA would have an $800 million budget deficit, describing the situation as “dire.” To counteract Palestinian instability, even amidst Palestinian threats to cut coordination, Israel has extended several goodwill measures to help the PA. Israel does not want to see a failed state on its border.