What kind of government will we see in Gaza after the war?

The title question was raised this weekend at the New York Times by Steven Erlanger. He’s spent plenty of time with the Palestinians, particularly in the West Bank, and has been surveying their feelings about the future. Joe Biden previously suggested that Gaza could be governed by a “revitalized Palestinian Authority,” under which Gaza and the West Bank could be reunited into one functioning state. But in the view of many Palestinians, that’s not a functional plan in any way. They really don’t trust the PA as it operates today and don’t believe that the people of Gaza would accept them as their legitimate representatives. Their views of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas have soured over the years as well. Aside from Hamas, that doesn’t leave many other options, if any.

Today few people in the West Bank or Israel regard the authority as capable of governing a post-conflict Gaza. The authority is deeply unpopular even where it has control in the West Bank, because it is seen as a subcontractor to the long Israeli occupation.

Its support is so tenuous, in fact, that it would be unlikely to survive without the security provided by the Israeli Army.

Set up after the 1993 Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority was intended as a temporary administration on the way toward an independent Palestinian state. It is dominated by the Fatah faction, excludes Hamas, and for much of that time, it has been run by President Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, who is now 88.

The first thing that struck me when considering this idea is that the question being posed rides on two very large assumptions. The first is that there will actually be an “end” to this war. The second is that if the war does somehow end, there will be enough of the Gaza Strip left and the Palestinian people there to bother governing. The infrastructure of the northern half of the Strip is gutted and the southern section will have to be mopped up by Israel sooner or later. Rebuilding that pile of rubble would take decades and it would have to be overseen by someone that could be trusted to live in peace along the Israeli border. Who that might be remains an open question.

Erlanger raises some valid points and the comments from the West Bank Palestinians he’s interviewed appear to support his contentions. The Palestinians there don’t trust the PA, seeing it as currently carrying water for Israel and supporting that country’s policies. The Palestinian Authority has never held another set of elections since taking power, leading to considerable unrest. And even if they were capable of it, Mahmoud Abbas is nearly 90 years old now. He doesn’t appear to have a clear and obvious successor.

So who would the Palestinians prefer to organize a government? According to the ones Erlanger spoke to, rather than exporting the PA to Gaza to establish operations, they would rather have Hamas come to the West Bank and take control there. That idea may sound strange to Western ears, but it reinforces something I’ve been suggesting since the latest war kicked into gear. The Palestinian people aren’t being “oppressed” by Hamas and they’re not cheering for Israel to “rescue” them from the grip of the terror group. They actually support Hamas. They elected them in the first place and according to some of the Palestinians in the West Bank, if they were given the chance again today they would elect them again.

So what is the solution? If we’re being brutally honest, there doesn’t appear to be one. Even if the IDF manages to locate and kill every Hamas fighter currently in the Gaza Strip, they will have eliminated the current crew, but not the idea of Hamas. Those fighters will be replaced by others, likely including some of the Palestinian prisoners being released this weekend. There are some Palestinians who have taken Israeli citizenship and seem to be peacefully coexisting. But those who remain in Gaza and the West Bank still seem to harbor a deep hatred of Israel and the Jews. Short of scattering them to the winds, there may not be much that can be done about this in the long run. Eradicating all of the Palestinians would bring cries of war crimes ringing down on Israel from too many of its allies. Israel would need to find a way to break the cycle of Palestinian children being indoctrinated from early childhood into wanting to grow up to be jihadists. And that could take a generation if it’s even possible. The entire situation is beyond depressing.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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