The Palestinian Authority cannot govern Gaza

Society cannot accept any arrangement installing PA rule over Gaza due to the sheer laziness or willful blindness of Western leaders, as the PA fosters, funds, and furthers violence.

It is a maxim among policymakers that there are no good choices in the Middle East – only options that are less terrible than others.Hamas’s eventual defeat and the aftermath of Israel’s Operation Swords of Iron will present challenges that embody the rule, chief among them the question of who will govern Gaza. Naturally and justifiably, Israel is focusing its political and military capital on victory instead of addressing this question.

Nonetheless, it seems that the Biden administration has reached an early consensus on this looming quandary. At a congressional hearing on November 1, Secretary of State Antony Blinken floated that a “revitalized” Palestinian Authority (PA) might oversee Gaza after Israel hopefully cripples Hamas’s military and governing capabilities. Just four days later, Blinken met with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and is said to have envisioned the PA taking center stage in Gaza after the war.

This would be a terrible mistake.

Giving Gaza to the Palestinian Authority would be a terrible mistake

Proponents of the US administration’s idea tend to frame the PA’s credo as “moderate,” relative to Hamas’s explicit goal from their founding charter to actualize Israel’s destruction. But being “moderate” does not equate to being palatable: exchanging masks and fatigues for suits and ties hardly changes the character of the individuals donning either. It also fails to recognize history: After Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza in 2005, the PA was put in charge of the territory and failed miserably to maintain power or order, or to bring any peace or growth.

While it was Hamas terrorists who committed the October 7 genocide, it is the PA’s “pay for slay” program the PA will provide financial rewards to families of the thousands of Hamas terrorists killed and captured that day. On a low estimate, the PA will provide almost $3 million per month to these monsters who explicitly targeted and butchered 1,400 innocent Israelis on October 7.

In fact, the PA makes its “pay for slay” payments while thumbing its nose in the face of the US taxpayer. Much of the money the PA distributes comes from US foreign aid, despite the 2017 Taylor Force Act prohibiting the PA from distributing US foreign aid to terrorists or the families of “martyrs.” As long as incentives to slaughter exist and the US remains ambivalent on the misuse of its foreign aid, the only thing a “revitalized” PA will accomplish is refilling the powder keg for yet another round of violence.

Believing the best of people is admirable among friends, but not in foreign policy and especially not in war. The American and Western obsession with defaulting to the PA governing a post-Hamas Gaza is myopic. The reality is that the PA financially incentivizes and rewards terror – specifically terror that targets Jews and Israelis. Additionally, once these Palestinian prisoners are released, they are guaranteed employment in the PA. While reputable companies hire those with capable backgrounds and impressive prior employment, the PA intentionally hires those who have committed terror acts against Jews and Israelis – this is truly a government by terrorists for terrorists.

The PA’s true intentions are evident in their invidious cradle-to-martyr project. Rather than encouraging tolerance and cross-cultural understanding, the PA provides its young pupils with textbooks that glorify terrorism and the prospect of Israel’s destruction. The curriculum’s results are clear as day. Fatah’s student group at Palestine Polytechnic University penned a response to the October 7 massacre that called upon Allah to slaughter Jews “one by one” and to “scatter them in every direction.” (Perhaps there’s a home for some of these students on American campuses, where they’ll enjoy the company of many whose calls for Jewish genocide and blatant antisemitism go unheeded by university administrators).

Others in the Fatah faction urged individuals and groups in the West Bank to emulate Hamas’s brutality. These students are the supposed level-headed, reasonable, and moderate crop of future “leadership” from which the PA will select Abbas’s successor. He is presently in his 18th year of a four-year term.

Society cannot accept any arrangement installing PA rule over Gaza due to the sheer laziness or willful blindness of Western leaders, as the PA fosters, funds, and furthers violence.

Downgrading Hamas, a regime of boiling, bloodthirsty killers, to a “moderate” simmer and expecting positive results is delusional. Groupthink and age-old “solutions” have yet to yield positive outcomes in the region.

If there is to be a more peaceful and prosperous future in Gaza, world leaders must think outside the box and not monolithically.

We must tap into the creativity and innovation that yielded the Abraham Accords, which have produced positive diplomatic and economic results. The powers that be must not settle on a failed, corrupt, and terror-sponsoring PA to govern Gaza after Israel defeats Hamas; it is a generational opportunity to implement new and creative solutions of governance that can drive economic growth and carve a path toward a better future for Palestinians and Israelis alike.

Sander Gerber is the chief executive of Hudson Bay Capital Management, a distinguished fellow at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), and a member of the State Department’s Middle East Partnership for Peace Act (MEPPA) advisory board. Ezra Gontownik is the founder and managing partner of private equity firm Rockpost Capital, a former investor at Berkshire Partners, and the co-founder and president of Kol HaNearim, a nonprofit supporting at-risk Israeli youth.

Originally published in the Jerusalem Post on November 11, 2023