Israeli defense minister Benny Gants
Israel Palestine

The Palestinian Authority faces existential crisis amid international paralysis stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is facing a severe financial crisis, threatening its very existence. The crisis has seriously limited the PA regime’s ability to meet its financial obligations, including the payment of salaries to over 150,000 public employees and civil servants. The crisis, unprecedented in its severity,   comes at a time when much of the world has effectively lost interest in the Palestinian cause due to the emergence of other important crises and also the widespread convictions in many capitals that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is irreconcilable. Oil-rich Arab states have also seriously slashed or stopped their financial aid to the PA.

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Israel takes advantage

Predictably, Israel is taking full advantage of weak Palestinian stance and is trying to impose an insidious apartheid system in the West Bank whereby Palestinians would resign to a dwarfed entity that has limited authority, but no real sovereignty or independence. The contemplated scheme would be more or less a practical translation of President Trump’s so-called “deal of the century”  In the context of this dictated solution, Israel would annex at least half of the West Bank.  Israel’s immutable strategy has always been to arrogate as much Palestinian geography as possible with as little demography as possible.

Apartheid means apartheid, not paradise!

This week, Israeli defense minister Benny Gants has pointed out that apartheid is the only solution available to “our conflict with the Palestinians.”  Gants didn’t use the word apartheid per se but employed a euphemistic language that connotes and denotes apartheid.

Speaking to the Hebrew news site Walla on 16 April 2022, Gants said he was advocating   “two entities living side by side in peaceful coexistence,  with Israel retaining overall military control encompassing the entire territory from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea.

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He added that the “Palestinian areas” would enjoy geographic continuity through bridges and railways. Gants carefully ignored the fact that under such arrangements,  Israel would be able to hermetically seal the scattered Palestinian Bantustans by cutting them off from each other and shutting them off from the rest of the world, depending on the mood of just one Israeli officer.

The Israeli defense Minister blamed PA leader Mahmoud Abbas for calling Israel an apartheid state and for paying modest monthly stipends to martyrs’ families and to thousands of Palestinian prisoners languishing in Israeli jails and detention camps.

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Gants is viewed by many Israeli Jews as representing the center-left in Israel. However, if he were to be evaluated according to European or international standards, the general would likely be classified as a “hard-core racist” and his ideology as fascist par excellance.

In many respects, he can be compared to the late Israeli leader Shimon Peres who succeeded in acquiring the image of a genuine peacemaker when in truth he was a nefarious war criminal responsible for killing and maiming hundreds, perhaps thousands,  of innocent men, women, and children in Palestine and Lebanon.

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For those who have forgotten, Peres used to claim at every press conference that (former PA Chairman) Yasser Arafat, not Israel, was controlling 99% of Palestinians and that Israel shouldn’t be blamed for the problems facing Palestinians. But Peres wouldn’t tell his interlocutors that Palestinians, from the smallest pre-school child to the PLO Chairman were unable to travel a few kilometers from their homes without an Israeli permission. Peres, Gants, et al, actually represent the dramatis persona Of mendacity and deception. Their prevaricated discourse reveals their insincerity, racism, and criminality.

What does the PA think?

The PA leadership wouldn’t accept Gants’ remarks, at least publically,  as doing so constitutes  a definitive political suicide for Abbas and his entire regime, , given the total rejection of Gants’ remarks by the vast majority of Palestinians in Occupied Palestine and the Diaspora.

However, there are certain fears among the Palestinian political elite that Abbas, already in the twilight years of his life, might give in under the pressure of reality as well as the treasonous betrayal of the enduring Palestinian cause by such states as Bahrain, UAE, and Morocco as well as the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, Muhammed Bin Salman.

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Another factor that might force Abbas to “come to terms with reality, however bleak and gloomy it may be, is the above-mentioned chronic financial crisis facing the PA.  There is no doubt that the current crisis is the harshest and hardest ever to hit the Ramallah regime.

Rampant corruption

 The rampancy of corruption, nepotism, favoritism, and cronyism exacerbates an almost hopeless crisis that some experts are convinced can’t be resolved without overhauling the entire PA apparatus from the top of the pyramid to its base.

But such a feat would be easier talking about in seminars and in the street than dealing with its complications, ramifications, and repercussions. Besides, we must not forget that the Israeli occupation remains the mother of all problems in the PA and the occupied territories as a whole. Hence the prevailing pessimism.

Strikes and demonstrations

The Chronic PA failure to pay salaries at the end of each month or at the beginning of the new month has prompted a plethora of protests and demonstrations throughout the West Bank. Professional union members including teachers, doctors, and nurses took to the street or refused to go to work in protest against the non-payment of their salaries. 

Sources in Hebron intimated that some Insulin-dependent diabetic patients had to buy the vital life-saver from pharmacies due to a protracted strike by paramedics in public clinics. Several other public services were interrupted or came to a halt for similar reasons. The Biden administration has paid the PA some $150 million to keep it afloat. However, this is a temporary solace at best, which means that the crisis would be postponed for a few weeks or months.

Moreover, the American assistance is not an altruistic charity with no expected strings attached to it.. The Biden administration seems to have reneged on its erstwhile promise to reopen its consulate in East Jerusalem as a gesture of goodwill toward the Palestinians. expects the PA “to behave” and refrain from taking any practical steps toward joining the ICC. But even a successful joining of the ICC is not expected to achieve miracles for the Palestinians, particularly at this time of international paralysis due to the ongoing Ukrainian crisis.

Furthermore, the Palestinian cause would face even more ominous prospects should former President Donald Trump return to the White House following the next American elections,  which is not a far-fetched prognostication.

This possibility should make the PA a little hasty in its endeavor to salvage a sort of Political settlement that most experts and observers agree wouldn’t be in the Palestinians’ favor. 

Khaled Amayreh
Khalid Amayreh (Arabic: خالد عمايرة‎‎, b. 1957 Hebron) is a Palestinian journalist based in Dura, near Hebron, West Bank. He is an award-winning reporter who has contributed hundreds of articles to the Al-Jazeera English website from the Occupied West Bank. His field includes, inter alia, strategic studies with emphasis on the Arab world, Iran after the Shah, the Arab-Israeli conflict, contemporary Islamic movements, religious Zionism, comparative religion. Shiite Islam and failure of democratization in the Arab world. He received most of his formal education in the US where he obtained two degrees in journalism, a BA from the University of Oklahoma and a Master's degree in the same field from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He has published numerous studies and articles on a variety of subjects in both English and Arabic. He has also written five books. The title of his MA thesis in the US was “the religious Press in America and the Palestinian question from 1967-1983. Amayreh has worked for the following media: Middle East International, London, al-Jazeera English, Ahram Weekly (Cairo), UAE TV, and several other Arabic publications. Amayreh's sole agenda is to spread and disseminate the truth about the enduring Palestinian/Israeli conflict which seems to defy all peace efforts. Honesty are rectitude are paramount for him. Per him, unfortunately, this conflict is unlikely to be resolved in the foreseeable future or even during our lifetime.