Palestinians don’t want to govern Gaza — here’s why
Gaza “must include Palestinian-led governance” and be “unified with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority,” according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The only problem is Palestinians have made it clear they refuse to govern Gaza after the war.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Blinken the Palestinian Authority would govern Gaza only as part of a comprehensive deal that includes the PA governing all the West Bank and East Jerusalem: Either the PA gets all the 1967 territory, or let Israel figure out how to manage Gaza.
Abbas visited Jenin in the West Bank in July, the first time since 2012.
His senior officials were chased out, and he was not welcomed.
Yet Abbas thinks he can govern all 1967 territory when he can barely impose his control outside Ramallah.
Muhammad Dahlan, the former PA Gaza viceroy whom Hamas ejected in its 2007 coup, also said he would not accept an offer to govern the strip after Hamas because there is no one person who can fix things for Palestinians, who need an overhaul of their politics and system.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, warned Palestinians against even thinking about the idea of Gaza after Hamas: The only conceivable outcome is “the resistance overcomes the aggression. By beating the invaders, Palestinians will dissipate the delusions of creating a new reality” in postwar Gaza after the war.
As Palestinians, and many Arabs, blurred the line between Gazans and Hamas, discussing Gaza’s future became tantamount to treason.
These Palestinians and Arabs seem to think their antagonism toward Israel buttresses their ruling legitimacy and have as such chosen politicking over policymaking.
Fortunately, the United Arab Emirates has walked in the opposite direction.
Abu Dhabi unveiled a plan Tuesday to build a field hospital in Gaza.
On its surface, the plan seems like an exclusively humanitarian effort, but looking deeper, one cannot but notice the move is loaded with political messaging: The UAE, the only Arab government to denounce Hamas’ 10/7 attack, is building a hospital in Gaza without permission from or coordination with Hamas, which had until Oct. 7 been the de facto government in the strip.
\If the UAE can build and manage a hospital in Gaza without consulting with Hamas now, it can certainly build and manage other public facilities when the war ends and Hamas is gone.
Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed spoke over the phone Wednesday with the PA’s second-in-command, Hussein al-Sheikh.
Per a readout Sheikh posted on X, the two officials discussed “coordination with brothers and friends for the establishment of an international bloc that supports an immediate ceasefire.”
The bloc will almost certainly fail to stop Israel before it is done with Hamas.
But the bloc will likely be there when the war ends and can then “jointly” oversee governing Gaza after Hamas.
But all is not decided yet. Spoilers still abound.
Qatar, Hamas’ main sponsor, is trying to turn the clock back to Oct. 6.
Qatar realized Oct. 7 the gravity of the Hamas massacre of 1,400 Israeli noncombatants.
Doha thus went into damage control, impressing on Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh the need to pretend his organization had accepted the two-state solution.
Haniyeh then said in a speech Hamas agreed to recognize a Palestinian state on 1967 territory.
But that would be only half of the Arab Peace Initiative. The other half is for Arabs to recognize Israel and live in peace with it.
Haniyeh could not get himself to utter the words “Israel” or “peace.”
Second, Qatar took the offer of the other Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, that his organization was willing to release all nonmilitary hostages but needs Israel to stop the war long enough for Hamas to gather the hostages and set them free.
Meshaal said the remaining 200 Israeli “military hostages” would only be released in return for Israel freeing all Palestinians in its prisons.
Qatar knows that once Israel engages Hamas in the release of any number of hostages, the Jewish state might find itself forced to continue talking to free the rest.
And as long as Israel needs to talk to Hamas, indirectly through Qatar, Hamas will remain valuable. Destroying it will have to wait.
Palestinians and the Gaza Strip stand at a crossroads.
Either Israel succeeds in obliterating Hamas, giving the UAE and Palestinians an opportunity for a new start — rebuilding Gaza and with it a new and competent government — or Qatar manages to delay, obstruct and keep Hamas relevant until the Israeli momentum weakens and the world forces Israel to stop.
Hamas would thus survive, and plans for a better post-war Gaza will be shelved, probably forever.
Hussain Abdul-Hussain is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.