Israel’s Policy of Propping Up Mahmoud Abbas Has Failed

According to a recent report, 2023 has so far seen 101 cases of Palestinians opening fire on Israelis and a total of 3,640 terrorist attacks, which have left 28 dead. One reason for the increase in terror is the decline of the power and influence of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the northern part of the West Bank. Many serious observers of the situation—and many decisionmakers within the Israeli government and military—believe that Jerusalem’s best strategy is to strengthen the hand of the PA president Mahmoud Abbas. But since the beginning of his reign, Abbas has systematically violated the Oslo Accords, fostered hatred of Israel, incited violence, and provided financial incentives for terrorism. Yossi Kuperwasser examines how Israel might find its way out of this apparent dilemma:

[W]hy is it so essential for Israel to strengthen Mahmoud Abbas and the PA he heads? . . . Israel is reinforcing a leader and an entity that are not only hostile toward Israel and committed to fighting the Jewish state but weak domestically. If so, there is no guarantee that Israel’s assistance will benefit [its own interests]. The PA can probably manage, and perhaps even better, without Israel’s help, which casts [the Palestinian government] as collaborators with those [whom Palestinians] define as an enemy. (Indeed, when in 2020, the PA, on its own initiative, stopped accepting the revenue payments from Israel and halted the security coordination, its functioning was not harmed at all.)

In recent years, reflecting fears of an escalation, the Israeli government’s approach has combined fighting terror, deterring Hamas, buttressing the PA, and improving the Palestinians’ quality of life. Those governments were willing to live with the diplomatic pressure the PA mustered against Israel while seeking to strengthen and expand the Abraham Accords. At present, it is quite clear that the logic behind this approach has not proved itself, but rather the opposite.

The PA will not disintegrate of its own volition. The Palestinians regard it as the most outstanding achievement of their national struggle and as the basic infrastructure for the future Palestinian state, even if they have much criticism of its rampant corruption and are repelled by its leadership. It is also the largest employer of the Palestinians. . . . This reality is not going to change whether or not Abbas is strengthened. Even if, after his departure, the PA collapses amid a Palestinian civil war, almost all the Palestinian factions will share the aim of reestablishing it.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

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

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