Growing voices in Ramallah calling for the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority due to a political stalemate with Israel have raised concern among Israeli experts, who warn that such a step would force the Jewish State to regain complete control over Palestinian territories.
While they believe the scenario is unrealistic at the moment, the experts warn of far-reaching ramifications should the threat materialize.
Former Shin Bet chief Yaacov Peri told Ynet that the Palestinians are trying to show Israel that the option is on the table, but are not going to go ahead with disbanding the Authority, due to its relative good standing in the West Bank.
“It is a live and kicking entity, which is also successful,” Peri explained, adding that “it manages to maintain law and order in the West Bank and is seen as legitimate by most of the international community – and we can see the results at the United Nations and UNESCO.
“They also managed to isolate Israel from the rest of the world’s nations,” Peri added.
The Palestinian leadership has no motive to dissolve the Authority, he said, but warned that “if negotiations don’t start soon, it might be a plausible act of either despair or protest.”
According to Lt. Col. (ret.) Moshe Marzouk, the move would constitute “a grave punishment for Israel, forcing it to regain complete security control over the Palestinian territories as well as being responsible for the education, health and all other civil aspects of the local residents’ life.
“This will bring us back to the Arafat era, before there was a Palestinian Authority,” he noted.
Marzouk, who is currently a senior researcher at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Inter-Disciplinary Center in Herzliya, claimed that disbanding the Palestinian Authority would carry significant international ramifications.
“As it is our situation is not so good, but if there is no mediating body, it portrays us as an occupying power facing defenseless civilians. This is a problematic situation both legally and diplomatically,” he maintained.
Palestinian society and politics expert Prof. Hillel Frisch noted that Ramallah is well aware of the political vacuum such a move would create, and the risk of Hamas trying to fill the void.
Therefore, he stated, “I don’t think it is a realistic step, but rather a manipulation attempt to push Israel into dismantling the outposts and securing an American pledge to stop construction in the West Bank.”
Prof. Frisch noted that “there is no precedent in the history of humankind of a political entity that gave up on $3 billion and had the lives of hundreds of thousands of families depend on it.”
However, if the threat does materialize, Prof. Frisch does not believe it will be the end of the world: “There is a Civil Administration that was active in the region before the establishment of the Palestinian Authority and is still active today.
“It has municipal connections on the ground and will try to build a local technocratic government,” he added.
From a political viewpoint, Prof. Frisch believes the situation might actually alleviate some of the pressure on Israel because “there will not be any possibility of reaching a solution as long as there is no Palestinian governance.”