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The need to define the new US catchphrase: A ‘revitalized’ PA – analysis

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The need to define the new US catchphrase: A ‘revitalized’ PA – analysis



The US and Israel are in total agreement about the need to topple Hamas, have different expectations about how this can be done, and disagree fundamentally about the future of Gaza when the war against Hamas ends.

Since day one, or rather from October 7, the Biden Administration has not wavered in its understanding of Israel’s need to dismantle Hamas. And that understanding manifested itself in unstinting moral and material support.

Early on, however, differences appeared regarding the tactics that can be used to achieve that goal. For instance, immediately after the Simchat Torah massacre, Israel wanted to cut off all electricity, fuel and water into Gaza—something the US opposed, pressing Israel to allow in trucks of humanitarian aid.

Differences expanded

Over the last two months, these differences have expanded, with the US now publicly pressing Israel to do more to protect Gazan civilians during the warfare, not to lead to any more temporary massive population displacements, and to let even more humanitarian and economic aid into the area. So far, however, the two sides have been able to work out the tactical differences, and they have not translated into any significant crisis.

A MAN WALKS past destruction in Gaza following the aftermath of May’s 11-day war between Israel and Hamas. (credit: ABED RAHIM KHATIB/FLASH90)

Regarding the vision for the day after, or who exactly is going to take control of Gaza once Hamas is toppled, there are significant differences, and these came into stark relief on Saturday in comments made by Vice President Kamala Harris and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

VP Harris on Israel-Hamas war

Harris, speaking about the Israel-Hamas war at the UN climate conference in Dubai, said that since shortly after October 7, the Biden administration has held internal discussions, as well as deliberations with partners in the region and around the world, about what a post-conflict Gaza will look like.

“Five principles guide our approach for post-conflict Gaza: no forceful displacement, no re-occupation, no siege or blockade, no reduction in territory, and no use of Gaza as a platform for terrorism. We want to see a unified Gaza and West Bank under the Palestinian Authority, and Palestinians’ voices and aspirations must be at the center of this work.”

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If you look closely at those five principles, there is agreement on most of them. Israel is not intent on permanently displacing the Gaza population. The steps taken to clear Gazan citizens out of northern Gaza were meant only to clear civilians out of a battle zone to enable the IDF to fight terrorists there with minimal civilian deaths. The same principle will now be used to a lesser degree in southern Gaza.

Calls for resettlement of Gush Katif?

While some voices inside the government call for the resettlement of Gush Katif, this is not Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or the government’s policy. Netanyahu and the government have stated that there is no intention of permanently reoccupying Gaza, though there is an interest in retaining overall security control of the area so that Hamas does not reemerge once it is defeated.

Regarding the siege or blockade of Gaza, Israel’s blockade of Gaza was put into place to prevent Hamas from doing what it did anyhow—build itself into a military power. If Hamas is no longer in control, the purpose for a blockade will be obviated as long as the force that eventually controls  Gaza is benign and wants to bring in metal and concrete, not to build underground terror tunnels, but rather hospitals and schools.

As to a reduction of territory, on this matter there may be some disagreement between Israel and the US down the road. Israeli officials have spoken of the need to carve out a narrow buffer zone all along the border inside Gaza to prevent a recurrence of the situation where terrorists are positioned literally  just meters away from Israeli communities.

No more terrorism in Gaza

As to the fifth point—that Gaza should not become a platform for terrorism—that is something Israel obviously agrees with 100%.

Where things get dicey is where Harris went from these five points: “We want to see a unified Gaza and West Bank under the Palestinian Authority.”

She then expanded on this: “The Palestinian Authority security forces must be strengthened to eventually assume security responsibilities in Gaza,” she said. “The Palestinian Authority must be revitalized, driven by the will of the Palestinian people, which will allow them to benefit from the rule of law and a transparent responsible government. Eventually, this revitalized Palestinian Authority must have the capacity to govern Gaza as well as the West Bank.”

Harris used language here that US officials have been using consistently over the last few weeks: a “revitalized Palestinian Authority,” without giving any indication of what that means practically. In their public comments, US officials tend to romanticize the PA—present it as a good-willed, peace-loving entity that just wants to live side by side with Israel in two states.

Netanyahu, in a press conference Saturday night, was unequivocal in stating that there was no way he would ever agree to the Palestinian Authority given control of Gaza, saying that Israel will not ignore or whitewash the PA’s enormous failings. 

“We recognize all the bad things that come from the PA, and we don’t ignore them,” he said. 

Among the “bad things” he enumerated were that the PA  pays terrorists in jail for killing or trying to kill Jews; that they educate their children to a hatred of Israel, a desire to kill Jews and bring about Israel’s disappearance; that PA President Mahmoud Abbas, more than 50 days after the October 7 massacre, has yet to apologize; and that PA Leader Jabril Rajoub said that he hopes to see what happened on October 7 unfold from the West Bank as well.

Netanyahu said that the creation of the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo Agreement was a “horrible mistake” that took the most hostile elements within the Arab world and Palestinian society and transplanted them into the heart of Israel. “One thing I will not do,” he said, is take this “flawed thing” and put it in control of Gaza. 

Acknowledging that this is “what some of our best friends recommend,” Netanyahu said, “I think differently.”

“I think we will have to create something different,” he said of Gaza the day after the war,  adding that Israel will need to retain overall security control and that the internal administration “will have to be through a completely different process, as the PA has failed in this.” Regarding the PA, Netanyahu said, “It doesn’t fight terrorism, it funds terror; it doesn’t educate toward peace, it educates toward Israel’s disappearance. That is not the entity that needs to take control of Gaza.”

The differences between the US and Israel on this matter could not be more stark: Harris and the US administration see the PA as part of the solution; Israel sees it as a major part of the problem.

The key to bridging the gap—and it is a considerable one—may be in the definition of that word that the US is now using in talking about the PA: “revitalized.” If a “revitalized” PA  means a wholly revamped and restructured PA, with new leaders, new policies, new textbooks, and hands-on input from countries like the United Arab Emirates rather than Qatar, then that is one thing.

If, however, it means just pouring old wine into a new bottle, then — at the risk of conflating this into a full-blown diplomatic crisis over the issue, as some will breathlessly want to portray it —  just say the two countries are on a non-catastrophic collision course over this specific issue.





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Jewish diaspora expresses concern as Iranian drones launch toward Israel

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Jewish diaspora expresses concern as Iranian drones launch toward Israel



Jewish diaspora organizations expressed concern for Israel and increased their own security preparedness as Iran launched drones against Israel on Saturday night.

The Jewish Federation said it was comforted by IDF statements that the situation was under control and by the statements of support by the United States of America, but was watching “Iran’s launch of an attack on Israel with extreme concern.”

“We are monitoring the situation very closely and join in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Israel.”

Preparing for attacks in the diaspora

The Conference of European Rabbis said that Jewish communities in Europe were raising their level of preparedness, given the history of Iranian proxies attacking Jewish targets on the continent.

A drone is launched during a military exercise in an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on October 4, 2023. (credit: IRANIAN ARMY/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY)/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

“We are closely monitoring the Iranian attack on Israel and its implications for the security of Jews in the diaspora,” said conference president Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt. ‘We are in contact with all the leaders of the Jewish communities and security officials across the continent. I call on all Jews across Europe to remain vigilant in community institutions and to act responsibly in the public sphere.” 





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Dozens of Palestinians and Jews injured in West Bank altercations

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Dozens of Palestinians and Jews injured in West Bank altercations



The IDF said on Saturday night that dozens of Jews and Palestinians had been injured in altercations in the West Bank following the terrorist murder of 14-year-old shepherd, Binyamin Achimair.

Though he was murdered on Friday, his death was only confirmed Saturday afternoon, with the subsequent violence between Jewish extremists and Palestinians being declared the largest battles in the area not involving IDF forces since February 2023.

In February 2023, dozens or more of extremist Jews burned large swaths of Palestinian property in Huwara in the West Bank, injured a number of Palestinians, and killed at least one Palestinian.

The IDF said it had significantly beefed up its forces in the area to try to maintain order, but it appeared to be on a significant delay from after multiple rounds of attempts by Jewish extremists to take revenge on nearby Palestinians villages, though these extremists did not have any specific information about who might have committed the murder.

After February 2023, the IDF apologized for failing to react fast enough to protect Palestinians and had said it would preemptively beef up to be ready for future potential reactions by Jewish extremists to the killing of Jews in the West Bank by Palestinians.

Binyamin Achimair, Missing 14-year-old boy from Samaria, Police are requesting help in searching, April 12, 2024. (credit: ISRAEL POLICE)

One area attacked by Jewish extremists on Saturday was the Duma village, south of Nablus.

A mix of Israeli, Arab, and US media reported that Jewish extremists also attacked over Friday and Saturday al-Mughayyir, Deir Dibwan, and Beitin, east of Ramallah and the town of Sinjil, northeast of Ramallah.

Violence from both sides

There were also reports of Palestinian counterattacks.

It was unclear which reports involved live fire, which lower grade rock-throwing style violence and how much violence was committed by each side.

Reports did say that dozens of Palestinians’ cars or structures were set on fire by extremist Jews, with some reports of Palestinian deaths.

By Shin Bet statistics, most extremist Jews, though not all, involved in violence come from a specific list of West Bank settlements or outposts.





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Israeli drone shot down by Hezbollah was worth $10 million

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Israeli drone shot down by Hezbollah was worth $10 million



An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was shot down last Saturday by Hezbollah. The UAV was later revealed as an Elbit Systems Hermes 900 Kochav, valued at around $10 million. 

The Hermes 900 is Elbit’s largest drone and has been sold to the Israeli Air Force, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and according to foreign reports, Azerbaijan. The UAV is a relatively large and expensive drone capable of staying in the air for approximately 30 straight hours.

Hermes 900 UAV (credit: ELBIT SYSTEMS)

The IDF’s response to Hezbollah terror

Following the downing of the UAV, the IDF struck targets in Baalbek deep in Lebanon, on the border with Syria. Missiles were fired in the next morning towards the Golan Heights, and in the afternoon towards Kibbutz Manara and Moshav Margaliot.

Proceeding this, about a month and a half ago, the IDF announced that an Israeli Air Force UAV was shot down by Hezbollah in Lebanese territory. In response, the IDF struck targets of the terrorist organization in the Baalbek area in Lebanon for the first time since the Second Lebanon War. Baalbek is approximately 100 km. north of the border and is the northernmost target that the IDF has struck since the beginning of the war.





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