The U.S. should focus on the Palestinian Authority & Hamas, not Israel


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New Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett acknowledges the press while being sworn in earlier this month. With Israel’s new leadership there is chance for improved stability in the region.

Tanner Trafelet, Contributor

As reported by the Associated Press June 22, 2021, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has arrested yet another activist over his online criticism of the PA’s policies, and violent supression of political opponents. Relations between the United States (U.S.) and Israel are at a crucial point following the recent change of Israeli government, and the downturn in violence resulting from the recent flare up of violent conflict between Israel and Hamas. 

Following former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s exit from the nation’s top political post, the U.S. has been placed in a unique position to mediate the Israel-Palestine conflict. The U.S. can continue to maintain its status quo support of the Israeli state, or it can focus on the real problems in this situation — Hamas and the PA.

Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by the United States and European Union, indiscriminately fired rockets into Israeli civilian areas during its recent 11-day conflict with Israel. These rocket attacks killed more than 200 Israelis, and violated international law that prohibits the specific targeting of civilians, and use of indiscriminate lethal force in civilian areas.

Hamas exercises political and military control over the Gaza Strip, which the Freedom House organization assigns a 11/100 on the ‘Freedom Scale’ which measures how free daily life is in a country or territory. The Palestinian Authority recently canceled their first elections in 15 years in face of a perceived loss for Mahmoud Abbas’ party to the political arm of the Islamic militant group Hamas.

With the PA exercising limited control over areas of the West Bank and Gaza, the people under the control of the Palestinian authority have not had the ability to vote in 15 years. Upon rudimentary contemplation of an election, the PA’s dictator canceled the elections once confronted with a potential loss, which reasonably constitutes non-democratic behavior. 

Israeli responses to attacks by the PA and Hamas have long been plagued by the question of force proportionality, with specific emphasis placed on the most recent 11-day conflict. Meaning, is the force that Israel responds to the PA or Hamas with similar in level to the force leveraged against it? In the recent exchange of Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocket attacks, the Israelis leveled a 12-story building containing the Gaza offices of the Associated Press Al-Jazeera new networks. Also contained in this building were private apartments and a blood testing lab.

 Israeli airstrikes in the overcrowded Gaza strip often cause civilian casualties, such as an Israeli airstrike targeting ‘Hamas’s underground military infrastructure’, which ended up killing 42 people, including 16 women and 10 children. To compound this killing of civilians in pursuit of destruction of Hamas military infrastructure, less than 24 hours before the Israeli military conducted an airstrike on refugee camp located Gaza, killing 10 women and children. The stated objective of this airstrike was the killing of ‘senior Hamas officials’ who were residing in the camp, although these individuals were not confirmed as having been killed.

U.S.-Israel relations are poised to undergo a positive change, since Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and U.S. President Joe Biden share similar priorities on issues such as Palestine, relations with neighboring Arab countries, and Iran. Echoing back to the shared views that former U.S. president Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu held, it may be most beneficial for the U.S. to facilitate more hard peace agreements between Israel and its neighbors.