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Video: Letting the Palestinian Authority into Gaza?

Efraim Inbar

Cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank—in which the PA governs the territory but Israel exercises overriding security control—is the best solution for Gaza after the IDF withdraws, veteran Israeli security expert Efraim Inbar said Thursday. Israel wants a “modest thing: freedom of military action after we leave Gaza,” Inbar told a Jewish Policy Center webinar.

The Biden Administration “is obsessed with a two-state solution” involving Israel and a “revitalized” Palestinian Authority. Although the PA is “weak” and “ineffective,” it cooperates with Israel in the West Bank and does not want to be an Iranian proxy, Inbar said. He stated that having the PA rule Gaza is probably the best possible outcome in terms of running Gaza after Israel leaves. However, given the Palestinian Authority’s corruption and failures to administer the West Bank, it is likely to fail in Gaza as well, Inbar said. At the same time, Washington “doesn’t want a chaotic situation in Gaza,” Inbar added. Therefore, Israel should try to assuage U.S. concerns in exchange for supporting broad security freedom of operation for Israel in the Strip.

Inbar, currently president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, emphasized that all other options for administering Gaza after Israeli forces leave are fraught with problems. For example, the UNIFIL force in Lebanon has been a complete failure, and there is little appetite from European or Arab countries for running Gaza. Regarding Egypt, Inbar said that the latest revelations about Hamas’ massive network of Gaza smuggling tunnels illustrate something beyond corruption: Cairo sees strengthening Hamas as a way to cut Israel, a regional rival, down to size. On the positive side, Israel’s security policies in the West Bank were successful in preventing a large-scale outbreak of terror post-October 7, Inbar said. In contrast, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s strategy of having a “weakened” Hamas in Gaza was a good idea that was “poorly implemented.” By allowing Hamas to improve its weapons and strengthen itself militarily, it helped pave the way for October 7, he said.