Yesterday, the Israeli cabinet voted to take as-yet-unspecified steps to “stabilize the civil situation” within the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority (PA), and to do what it can to keep the PA from collapsing—while continuing to call attention to the PA’s policies of encouraging terrorism with both propaganda and generous financial rewards. Haviv Rettig Gur explains some of the reasons for the unstable situation in Judea and Samaria:
The West Bank isn’t simply collapsing into a miasma of nationalist rage, as many observers fear. It is imploding in the vacuum created by a far more insidious and persistent force: bureaucratic neglect. . . . Economic prosperity doesn’t prevent terror or violence, nor does poverty drive them. But the problem . . . goes deeper than impoverishment or bad governance. In places like Jenin and Nablus, [from which most terrorism in the past year has originated], where the PA has retreated and local terrorist militias now rule, there’s almost no government at all, no safety, no planning.
By way of example, Gur notes the problems Palestinian have getting reliable electricity, and observes that a planned new power plant near Jenin would alleviate the situation—and benefit Israel and involved foreign countries as well as the Palestinians themselves. But so far the plan has been held up:
A tiny part of the infrastructure, some 300 meters of pipeline, must pass through an Israeli-administered strip of land in [the mostly-Jewish part of the West Bank known as] Area C. Civil Administration approval for the site is being held up, frustrating Palestinian officials, foreign backers, and—this is vital to understand—senior Israeli government officials. There’s no reason for the delay, no fight over the relevant strip, no archaeological dig or holy site, no nearby settlement or military base. The delay costs Israel money and slows gas sales. It is pure bureaucratic incompetence. . . .
The PA is dying. A great deal of its death is by its own hand, by its bottomless corruption and incompetence, by its refusal since Yasir Arafat’s day to turn into something more than a petty kleptocracy, and, of course, by its close cooperation with Israel in its desperate efforts to maintain stability and prevent its own ouster by more radical Palestinian forces.
Israel’s enemies tend to think of the country as a unitary whole where every mistake or crime is a function of malice or deep planning. It is a habit of prejudice to reduce the object of one’s judgment to such uniformity. The reality, of course, is never as simple or thrillingly nefarious as the bigot imagines. There are many different Israels, many different political and cultural subgroups with different visions for the country’s future. . . . Israeli governments are unstable multiparty coalitions pulling in many different directions all at once.