As President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken ponder how to entice the Palestinian Authority (PA) to negotiate with Israel, a far more significant problem is being ignored. The Biden team marched along, facilitating a transfer of money to the PA and reopening the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem, another Palestinian demand, without tangible reciprocity. But this will not reveal the elephant in the room: an inevitable, coming uprising by Hamas in the West Bank.
Hamas instigated the Gaza war in May as part of a strategy to weaken Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party and increase Hamas’s popularity among Palestinian Arabs living in the West Bank. As Amos Harel writes in Haaretz, the rule of Abbas “is less stable. … The succession battles among his subordinates are being waged openly and, above all, Hamas is continuing to gain popularity against the backdrop of what is perceived as its success in standing up to Israel during the fighting in May.”
The U.S. evidently thinks it can strengthen the PA’s standing with the Palestinian people by insisting any rebuilding of Gaza be coordinated through the PA and not Hamas, a U.S.-designated terror organization. But covering over the rot of the PA with increased foreign aid is a Band-Aid at best. Hamas may allow some money to flow through the PA to Gaza, but Abbas won’t control it for long.
That will not save the PA, which is considered corrupt by many Palestinians. That corruption includes accusations of stealing billions of dollars in internationally contributed money designated for the Palestinian people over many years, money that allegedly ended up enriching Abbas and his Fatah cronies. Hamas also reportedly has stolen donated money and used it to build villas on the Mediterranean and tunnels to ferry terrorists and to buy missiles to target Israeli civilians. READ MORE