Israel’s new government on Sunday hinted that the Palestinian Authority’s free lunch is over, and that if it doesn’t start to fulfill its obligations, it might not be around much longer.
Why it matters: The international community insists that the collapse of the Palestinian Authority would be detrimental to the peace process and plunge the region into chaos and violence.
Israel’s new government flips that argument on its head:
- The Palestinian Authority has had more than 25 years to prove itself.
But in that time:
- Violence against Israel has increased
- Anti-Israel incitement has become rampant in Palestinian media and society
- Terror groups like Hamas are so heavily-armed that they now constitute full-fledged militaries
- The Palestinian Authority is so hopelessly corrupt that it couldn’t now stand on its own economic legs if it wanted to
Background: The Palestinian Authority (PA) was created in 1995 as part of the “Oslo” peace accord. It had two primary objectives in that interim agreement:
- Establish the mechanisms of a functioning state; and
- Curb terrorist violence against Israel and the Jews.
The PA was established upon the foundation of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), but in reality it was just a thin veneer granting PLO leader Yasser Arafat the international legitimacy and clout he craved.
- In the 1970s and 1980s, Arafat’s PLO was the world’s premier terrorist organization, similar to what Al Qaeda would become in the 2000s.
- After morphing into the Palestinian Authority, and despite an elaborate performance in the presence of Bill Clinton, the Palestinian National Charter was never amended and still looks forward to Israel’s destruction.
- Arafat told Arab media after signing the Oslo Accords that it was all part of his “Phased Plan” that would eventually result in Israel’s destruction.
- In 1998, he reiterated to Egyptian media that the peace agreements were little more than a ruse leading to Israel’s ultimate demise.
Arafat’s path has been faithfully followed these past 18 years by his protégé and successor, Mahmoud Abbas.
- Abbas has a more refined public demeanor than Arafat, leading many Western voices to call him a “moderate.”
- But under Abbas incitement against Israel in the Palestinian Authority has only increased.
Enough is enough
Israel agreed to let the PLO become the Palestinian Authority and govern the local Arab population with the understanding that it would end anti-Israel incitement, curb terrorist violence and disarm all unlawfully-armed militant groups.
On top of that, it was to educate the Palestinian population to peaceful coexistence with Israel.
Having long failed to honor these commitments, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said the time has come to finally hold the Palestinian Authority accountable.
He told Sunday’s cabinet meeting in Jerusalem:
“The PA has to decide if it wants to continue to exist, and if so, it must deal with the needs of its Arab citizens in Judea and Samaria and stop engaging with terror. Or it does not want to exist and it prefers to return to the situation where it is Israel’s enemy.”
If the PA prefers to be an enemy, as it has demonstrated these past two decades, then Smotrich insisted Israel must treat it as such.
“As long as the PA supports terror and is an enemy, why am I interested in helping it exist? My only interest in its existence is if it operates within existing agreements… and takes care of its citizens and thwarts and acts against terror and works in conjunction with the Israeli security forces, then the PA is an authority with which one can have a in-depth relationship.”
The remarks came as Smotrich signed an order taking 139 million shekels ($39 million) in tax revenues collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority and instead transferring the money to Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism.
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