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Video with Sander Gerber: The Palestinian Authority Shouldn’t Govern Gaza

Sander Gerber

Hamas “conducted self-documented atrocities” in Israel on October 7 to cause an Israeli counterattack that would result in great destruction in the Gaza Strip, Sander Gerber told a Jewish Policy Center webinar on December 14. It did so “to bring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the forefront … as a strategic asset for Iran.”

Gerber, a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and chief executive officer of Hudson Bay Capital, an international investment firm, said Iran “could not afford an Israel-Arab rapprochement” that seemed to be gathering momentum before Hamas’ massacres inside Israel. The mullahs in Tehran needed Israeli-Palestinian conflict with worldwide coverage of Gaza casualties to undermine security cooperation among Israelis and Western-oriented Arab states, he asserted.

Gerber said he thought Hezbollah “was planning an invasion from the north, but was surprised by Hamas’ timing” of its October attacks. Meanwhile, President Biden’s dispatch of two aircraft carrier groups to the Middle East apparently countered further Iranian adventurism. Nevertheless, “I believe it serves Iran’s position right now to get Israel mired in Gaza.”

“This is a troubling time,” Gerber said. Iran has encircled the Jewish state. It arms, funds and trains not only Hamas (Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement) and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, but also the much larger Hezbollah (Party of God) in Lebanon, militia in Syria and Iraq and the Houthis (motto: “Good is the Greatest, Death to America, Death to Israel, a Curse Upon the Jews, Victory to Islam”) in Yemen.

Approximately 200,000 Israelis have temporarily relocated or been evacuated from villages and towns near Gaza in the south and along the border with Lebanon. In addition to war in the Strip, Israel has counterattacked after Hezbollah rocket fire in the north. If Israeli civilians do not move back, Jerusalem will have in effect ceded territory to its Iranian-supported enemies, Gerber said.

In addition to halting progress in Israeli-Arab relations, particular with Saudi Arabia, combat in the Gaza Strip “has produced antisemitism worldwide not seen” in decades, he noted. Gerber, who served with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Conference on Antisemitism and Other Prejudices, opposes the Biden administration’s insistence that the Palestinian Authority administer the Strip after the war and Washington’s push for a “two-state solution.”

“Why can’t Egypt take responsibility?’ he asked. “This starts to get to the crux of the matter. … There has to be responsibility in the Arab world for its Arab brothers” in Gaza.

The PA, established in the 1990s as part of the Oslo peace process, administered the Gaza Strip and nearly all Palestinian-populated areas of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) until being ousted from the former by Hamas in a five-day war in 2007, Gerber noted. “The PA has been inciting and paying [for anti-Israel terrorism] since its creation,” he said. More than seven percent of the Palestinian budget, in excess of $350 million annually, still goes to the PA’s “pay-for-slay” expenditures. This includes not only PA-affiliated terrorists but also Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad members.

In addition to its thuggish incompetence administering the West Bank, the authority “is not going to be able to help rebuild and govern Gaza,” Gerber said. He helped spur passage of the Taylor Force Act, named for an American army veteran murdered by a Palestinian Arab in Tel Aviv in 2016. The act requires the United States to deduct the amount the PA spends on “pay-for-slay” from aid to the authority. Under the Trump administration, Washington suspended most financial support to the PA. The Biden White House restored much of it.

A Saudi-Israeli peace will enable multilateral Arab responsibility for Gaza “and ultimately the West Bank,” Gerber believes. Meanwhile, “all the language now about two states … makes Israel the bad guy,” he said. “It is really up to the Arab allies [of Washington and Jerusalem] to form a coalition” to oversee reconstruction of Gaza post-Hamas. Washington could better pressure Qatar to cease funding Hamas (something it and Israel previously accepted, he said) and cut incitement by al-Jazeera, the broadcast network based in Qatar. “Collapsing UNRWA,” the United National Relief and Works Agency subsidizing Palestinians’ multi-generational “refugees” into other UN bodies also would help.

Washington’s pressure on Israel to reduce the violence in Gaza protects Hamas, Gerber said. “I think it will be very hard to eradicate Hamas’ military structure in the next month.” Even facing  air strikes and flooding of its tunnel network, the terrorist organization wants large numbers of civilian casualties, he stressed. That would play into accusations on campuses and internationally that “Israel is conducting genocide, Israel is a genocidal country.”

Israel’s failure to rebut these accusations “makes absolutely no sense,” since repetition causes people to believe messages, Gerber said. “I think the world is awash with Israel hatred because of this charge.”