Address Internal Reform in the Palestinian Authority

(Washington Institute for Near East Policy) Ghaith al-Omari - The Palestinian Authority's poor governance and political ossification are key contributors to its fragility, as leaders in Ramallah steadily lose control over parts of the West Bank due to their eroding legitimacy. According to reputable polling, 80% of Palestinians consider the PA corrupt, and 60% see it as a liability rather than an asset. None of its main institutions enjoys popular legitimacy, in part because presidential and legislative elections have not been held since 2005 and 2006, respectively. The one successful attempt at reform - undertaken a decade ago by then-prime minister Salam Fayyad under pressure from the U.S. and international donors - was undermined through the combined efforts of Hamas and Fatah, led by President Mahmoud Abbas. In Nablus and Jenin, local activists do not feel beholden to the PA leadership, opening space for the emergence of armed groups such as the Lions' Den. In Hebron, local clans are increasingly seizing a measure of control simply to ensure stability. To salvage the PA as a functioning partner, Washington needs to reprioritize governance and reform issues, as well as pressure Ramallah to open political space in the West Bank and clarify the process of succession. Washington should work with traditional stakeholders Jordan and Egypt as well as European partners, ensuring that the necessary amount of pressure is placed on the PA while securing the necessary resources to make the project viable. The writer, a former advisor to the Palestinian Authority, is a senior fellow in The Washington Institute's Program on the U.S.-Israel Strategic Relationship.

2023-03-02 00:00:00

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