When it comes to world media reactions to President Trump’s Twitter threat, “We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect. […] With the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”, no one appears to consider the possibility that, when pressed against the wall economically, the Arabs in both the PA and the Gaza Strip, might, eventually, capitulate.
Peter Lerner, writing for Ha’aretz, on Thursday warned that “by cutting financial support to [UNRWA], the weakest members of Palestinian society will be hurt, leaving them at the mercy of the struggling Palestinian Authority, that could crumble under the sudden burden.” He then warned: “Traditionally, Palestinian refugee camps have been hotbeds for terrorist activities, staging grounds for some of the most horrific attacks against Israel and frequent locations of violent exchanges with the IDF.”
Conclusion, according to Lerner: “By weakening UNWRA and, consequentially, the Palestinian population even further, without a real administrative alternative, I believe that Palestinians will be even more susceptible more extremism and violence. This will not contribute to security or stability in the region.”
Ali Abunimah, writing for the anti-Israel website The Electronic Intifada, offers a different warnings, in case of a defunded Palestinian Authority: “If the PA goes, the so-called international community will no longer be able to pretend that there is a Palestinian state-in-waiting, and will have to deal with the reality that Israel directly rules over millions of Palestinians who have no rights whatsoever solely because they are not Jewish.”
“From the Palestinian perspective, the only viable path following a collapse of the PA would be to campaign for full Palestinian rights in every part of historic Palestine: a democratic, nonsectarian one-state solution to counter the apartheid version Israel is imposing,” Abunimah concludes.
Those two scenarios – even more violent Arabs in the territories and a PLO that’s shopping around world capitals for an independent state – represent the essence of media criticism of President Trump’s threat to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority.
Former PA peace negotiator and PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat appeared aghast at the idea that “the US administration is actually embarking on to a new path, which includes dictating solutions on the Palestinian people and dropping the Jerusalem and refugee files while keeping the situation as it is so that the upper hand will be for the Israeli occupation,” he told the Voice of Palestine.
“This is something our people, who will remain steadfast in their country, will never accept,” he vowed.
Except that, only nine months ago, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas did something very similar to President Trump’s threatened next move: he told the Israel Electric Company that he would no longer pay for electricity that was being generated to the Gaza Strip, as long as Hamas did not recognize the Palestinian Authority government as the sovereign power there.
His move was viewed as cruel and repressive; there were countless reports of Gaza Arabs suffering under a regime of one or two daily hours of power, if that. The intentional blackout caused essential systems in Gaza to break down, including medical care and food production. Surely, had Israel exercised such a move, millions of protesters would have filled the streets from Berlin to San Francisco, but even Abbas’ attack on the poor, hungry and sick received some restrained criticism.
In the end, Hamas cried Uncle. They invited the PA to take over in Gaza—albeit in a limited capacity, and handed them control over the border crossings. They also entered negotiations of a reconciliation government. It took a little over seven months.
Which proves that Arabs in Gaza and, by extension, the Palestinian Authority, are susceptible to economic pressure, and if world powers followed Trump in telling them: negotiate or starve, they would make a lot of noise, riot a little in the streets, and capitulate.
It’s worth a try.