How Palestinian Leaders’ Corruption and Israel’s Bureaucratic Inefficiency Have Helped Terror Flourish

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.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Israeli politics, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Palestinian Authority, West Bank

An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security