At a press conference last Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke about what the U.S. would like to see in the aftermath of the defeat of Hamas, which included the Palestinian Authority (PA) resuming responsibility for the Gaza Strip. Two days later, Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to say that he opposed ceding the Strip to the PA. Ghaith al-Omari, who has served as an official in the PA, argues that one problem with such a scenario is that the Palestinian people have lost faith in the government in Ramallah:
Failed diplomacy certainly injured the PA, but it was only part of the story. For the rest, the PA had itself to blame. . . . Government jobs were, [under its rule], political favors to be doled out to supporters; public funds, many of them from international aid, were mere means toward the enrichment of officials. Efficiency, responsiveness to the public, and the provision of services were all an afterthought. Palestinians became disenchanted with the PA and with government itself.
Today, a staggering 87 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza believe that the PA is corrupt, 78 percent want Abbas to resign, and 62 percent believe that the PA is a liability. . . . In the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, Hamas’s initial popularity has evaporated—today 72 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza believe that Hamas is corrupt—but the group maintains its power through fear and brutality, not the consent of the governed.
The PA’s response to the Hamas attack has underlined its irrelevance and its insecure standing among its people. . . . Under different circumstances—if the PA were a more effective, clean government, better trusted by its people—one might imagine it returning to Gaza when this war ends and leading the process of reconstruction and recovery. But Palestinians have no confidence that the PA has their interests at heart; the international community does not trust it to administer funds on the scale of those that will be needed for reconstruction; and the PA anyway lacks the institutional infrastructure to do the job.