Lanky and lightly bearded, Jihad Imtoor, the proud son of a fighter killed in the first intifada against Israel, stood outside his shop on a recent day. He was watching a march for Palestinians detained in Israeli jails, and expressed disgust with the control of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Mr. Imtoor talked about the authority’s failure to protect people from Israel and stated that it is time for them to be replaced.
The Palestinian Authority, in place since the 1993 Oslo Accords, has been deeply unpopular among the Palestinian people. Despite their intention as a temporary administration on the path toward an independent Palestinian state, it is seen as an authoritarian and corrupt regime.
With President Mahmoud Abbas as its leader, the authority has been accused of avoiding national elections and reigning without consideration for the national interests of the people it represents. The recent success of Hamas in dealing a significant blow to Israel has further damaged the authority’s standing. The failure to negotiate peace many turns to Hamas as the leader of Palestinian interests. Many Palestinians are disillusioned with the authority and see it as as a disreputable and corrupt entity held up only by its lack of alternatives.
President Biden and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken have supported the revitalization of the Palestinian Authority to reunite Gaza and the West Bank. However, the Palestinian people’s support for the authority is dwindling, and few believe that the authority could govern a post-conflict Gaza. Hamas would likely win if elections were held today, suggesting that the authority is failing to gain the support of the Palestinian people and is not seen as capable of effectively governing the region. Therefore, an alternative leadership may be needed to bring about the reunification of the West Bank and Gaza under some sort of two-state paradigm with Israel.