Increasing American Aid to the Palestinian Authority Hasn’t Stopped an Increase in Violence

Since coming to office, the Biden administration has directed more than a billion dollars to the Palestinian Authority, both directly and via UN organizations. Palestinian terrorism, meanwhile, has only intensified—as evidenced by the murder of an Israeli police officer in Tel Aviv last weekend. Victoria Coates and Congressman Chip Roy comment:

Contrary to the Washington establishment’s preconceived notions of what works in Israel, Trump-era policy proved that defunding the Palestinians for their venomous anti-America rhetoric and abuse of American funds to reward terrorists and their families does not in fact result in a significant spike in violence. This despite theoretically incendiary corollary policies such as moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and recognizing the Golan Heights as sovereign Israeli territory. Rather than stoking Palestinian violence, Trump’s policies led to the first peace deals between Israel and Arab states in 25 years.

Nonetheless, a top foreign-policy priority for the Biden administration was to reverse this progress and restore Palestinian funding, starting with $15 million in emergency coronavirus relief in March 2021.

In reality, Biden’s misguided policy has achieved almost the opposite of its aims. The last year has been the deadliest for both Israelis and Palestinians in decades. In Jenin, for example, which was the direct beneficiary of much of the UNRWA funding, the Palestinian Authority has lost security control and ceded space to Iranian-backed militants who packed the camp with fighters and weapons until the Israel Defense Forces moved in to clean them out.

Read more at National Review

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy, U.S.-Israel relationship


Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood