Day after the Gaza Genocide: The Unpromising Future of the Palestinian Authority

HAMAS Rockets Israel
Rockets are launched by Hamas from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, in Gaza, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. The Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip carried out an unprecedented, multi-front attack on Israel at daybreak Saturday, firing thousands of rockets as dozens of Hamas fighters infiltrated the heavily fortified border in several locations by air, land, and sea and catching the country off-guard on a major holiday | Courtesy: AP Photo/Hatem Moussa

In the first phase of the genocidal Israeli war on Gaza, it was clear that the Palestinian Authority was caught off guard. Its leadership neither anticipated that the Gaza Resistance would carry out such an operation nor did they expect that the Israeli war would quickly reach the point of genocide, in a matter of days. 

This resulted in a dichotomy. While, early on, some PA officials strongly criticized Israel, others did so, but guardedly. The likes of Mahmoud al-Habbash, a close adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, actually blamed Hamas for the October 7 operation, bizarrely speaking about the PA’s intention of holding the Resistance accountable, of course to the delight of Israeli media. 

These indecisive positions, however, became stronger over time, though certainly not to the extent where the PA outright supported the Resistance. But the events on the ground, the sheer number of Palestinians killed and wounded and the catastrophic destruction resulting from the war, gave the PA some political space to maneuver, and to present itself as the official and trusted Palestinian spokesman to the world. 

The PA sprang into action, not to meet any kind of historical responsibility in defense of Gaza, but to fight back against Benjamin Netanyahu’s direct insinuation that the PA is no longer relevant. 

The Israeli prime minister and others within his government have insisted that the PA and its dominant Fatah party will have no future role in Gaza. 

‘Israel Needs the PA’ 

“Gaza will be neither Hamastan nor Fatahstan,” Netanyahu said last December, resorting to his old style of orientalist, and condescending language.  

“After the great sacrifice of our civilians and our soldiers, I will not allow the entry into Gaza of those who educate for terrorism, support terrorism and finance terrorism,” Netanyahu added.

But if the Fatah movement, essentially the PA, is ‘terrorist’ based on Netanyahu’s definition, why would he then allow it to operate freely in the West Bank? 

Of course, Netanyahu is lying. Just a few months earlier, in June 2023, the Times of Israel reported that Netanyahu had told lawmakers that Israel “needs the Palestinian Authority”. 

Israel “has an interest in seeing that the PA continues to function” and is “prepared to assist it economically,” the Times of Israel conveyed Netanyahu’s comments, citing the original report of the Kan public broadcaster.

“Where it’s successfully operating, it does our job for us,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying. Doing “our job for us” was a reference to the PA’s cracking down on Palestinian Resistance throughout the West Bank. 

Thus, it makes little sense for the PA, from an Israeli viewpoint, of course, to be trusted in fighting Palestinian Resistance in the West Bank while “supporting terrorism”, meaning Resistance, in Gaza. 

But Netanyahu had other reasons to reach such a conclusion. 

What to Do with the PA? 

First, Israel knows that if the entire Israeli army has failed to defeat, let alone ‘crush’ the Resistance in the Strip, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas and his band of poorly trained officers will be routed out in a matter of days, if not hours. 

In fact, the Fatah-Hamas clash in the summer of 2007 was a perfect case in point. A much weaker Hamas defeated a large number of PA security branches in the Strip faster than the latter’s ability to flee the area, some of them eventually seeking refuge at the Israeli Eretz military checkpoint. 

Second, Netanyahu is unable to determine his ‘next step’ in Gaza, and those who will supposedly run it, because he holds no cards. His military campaign has not only caused genocide but was a total military and strategic failure. 

The Israeli leader is heavily criticized by many for failing to talk about the day-after-the-war scenario. But he ought not to be, because the question of “what do we do with Gaza?” is not a question he, or any other Israeli leader, is able to answer.  

The question assumes that the Palestinians have no agency of their own. If October 7 was of any value, it at least proved that Palestinians are active participants in shaping the events that will determine their future – in fact, the future of Israel as well. 

A more appropriate question should be ‘what to do with the Israeli occupation?’ Another, ‘what to do with the Palestinian Authority, which is helping Israel manage its occupation?’ 

No Authority

In truth, the PA is relevant insofar as carrying out whatever task is allocated to it by Washington and permitted by Israel. 

This role, however, is likely to be even more marginal in the future, since the Palestinian Resistance remains strong, and since a new resistance campaign is taking shape in the West Bank. 

In the case of Israeli withdrawal from Gaza without achieving Netanyahu’s lofty goal of destroying or even dismantling the Resistance, Hamas and all others will emerge stronger, both in terms of their military weight and their political influence.

Recent public opinion polls have shown that Hamas’ support among Palestinians in the West Bank has significantly grown, suggesting that the new Resistance model, starting in Jenin and Nablus, will most likely spread to the rest of the region in the coming months. 

The Israeli occupation operates in the West Bank without the least degree of respect for the ‘authority’ of the so-called Palestinian ‘Authority’. Even Palestinians in many parts of the West Bank are living and resisting with complete disregard of the PA.

It is difficult to imagine a workable scenario in which the PA can be fixed or reformed to fit the expectations of the Palestinian people. 


PA reforms are not possible because the very political premise that established it was molded by Washington and its western allies. After the Second Palestinian Uprising (2000-2005), the PA was ‘reformed’ by Washington’s military generals to fully accommodate Israel’s ‘security’. 

Since then, the PA fulfilled its part of the deal and, per the admission of Netanyahu himself, the PA is working for Israel, not against it. This is why it continues to function. 

Another reason why the PA cannot be expected to serve the role of a truly representative Palestinian political institution is that, throughout its history, it has fought every attempt at enacting any degree of democratic process.  

Abbas has thwarted the results of the democratic elections of 2006, prevented any return to democratic process ever since and championed a truly repressive political system. He rules with a long-expired mandate. He imprisons, tortures, kills whenever it serves his personal interest. His legacy is that of subservience to Israel, financial corruption and violence against Palestinians who resist Israel or question his behavior.   

For 30 years, the PA has learned to co-exist with the Israeli occupation and apartheid. But it has also proven to be incapable of co-existing in a pluralistic and democratic Palestinian political space. 

The PA must be as worried about the outcome of the war as Israel is, though for different reasons. 

For Israel an end to the war without crushing the Resistance, is the dawn of a new era of the empowered and resisting Palestinian. 

For the PA, a victory for Hamas and the Resistance is an end of an era as well. How the new era will be defined depends on the PA’s willingness to accept the new reality, and to simply let Palestinians manage their own lives, mold their own leadership and wage their own struggle. 

Otherwise, a clash is inevitable. And that would be a tragedy. 

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is ‘Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out’. His other books include ‘My Father was a Freedom Fighter’ and ‘The Last Earth’. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is


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