The Palestinian Authority, Three Decades after Oslo

Thirty years have passed since the famous handshake on the White House lawn placed the Palestine Liberation Organization—in the form of the newly created Palestinian Authority (PA)—in control of the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank. Neomi Neumann takes stock of its achievements and failures, which are closely tied to the fortunes of its second president, Mahmoud Abbas:

For many years now—particularly the past decade—the PA has been a foundering institution, with Abbas bearing ultimate responsibility for its failure to realize a Palestinian state within the 1967 Arab-Israel ceasefire lines. Abbas has led the PA since 2005 and can take credit for presiding over relative stability in the West Bank and preventing a rise in terrorism after the second intifada (2000–04). Yet given his advanced age, he may at any moment leave his post without claim to a worthy legacy. Moreover, he has failed to gain consensus for his nonviolent approach, which has drawn persistent challenges from the PA’s Gaza-based rival Hamas, long an advocate of armed struggle.

However pronounced the [Palestinian] public’s dissatisfaction may be with Abbas and the PA’s performance, it has not resulted in widespread protests or a significant increase in support for Hamas. According to [a] March poll, 51 percent of West Bank respondents believe that neither the PA nor Hamas deserves to represent the Palestinians. Moreover, past experience shows that, in the West Bank, public identification with the use of violence against Israel does not necessarily translate into actual public mobilization to promote terrorism. This is important given the influence of Palestinian public behavior on security in the West Bank.

Among the most disturbing developments is re-emergence of the West Bank as a source of terrorism:

This new generation of Palestinian [terrorists] is more sophisticated than those of the past decade, who were largely limited to “lone wolf ” actions (e.g., suicide attacks) and often used simple weapons such as knives. Many of today’s young militants have better weapons and are more focused on improving their military capabilities and using social-media platforms to expand their influence. To the PA’s discredit, some of these individuals are former Fatah or Tanzim members [i.e., members of Abbas’s ruling party], who were once regarded as the movement’s flesh and blood.

Added to the mix are Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and similar actors who have long sought to convert the West Bank into a battleground for anti-Israel resistance. Hamas continues to direct its operatives to promote terrorist attacks under the general principle of seeking escalation in the West Bank versus quiet in Gaza.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Mahmoud Abbas, Oslo Accords, 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