How Can You Build a Legitimate, Peaceful Palestinian State Out of a Kleptocratic Regime? – Jonathan Schanzer (The Tower)
The present efforts to create a Palestinian state are built entirely atop a Palestinian political system that has long suffered from endemic corruption, abuse of power, nepotism, and waste. This problem has dogged the Palestinians at least since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, radically undermining the most basic elements required for successful governance. This hinders the ability to administer international assistance, encourage investment, or build effective institutions.
The current Palestinian regime, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, is ossified, brittle, and distrusted by the Palestinian street. The failure to address this problem would most likely lead to the birth of a failed state that crushes Palestinian freedom and economic growth, threatens Israel, and fosters radicalism.
Washington’s failure to address Palestinian corruption has already had catastrophic consequences. It had a decisive influence on the Palestinian elections of January 2006, in which the terrorist group Hamas and its allies defeated their secular rival Fatah.
Abbas pushed Salaam Fayyad out of his position as prime minister in early 2013, eliminating the West’s trusted man and bringing Fayyad’s efforts to build accountable institutions and the foundation of a future Palestinian state to an untimely end.
Abbas has failed to reform the dysfunctional Palestinian Authority and does not show any signs of attempting to do so. The West, addicted to top-down peacemaking, shows little interest in genuinely helping the Palestinian people attain a government dedicated to coexistence with Israel, nor one built on the open, fair and transparent civil society and legal system required to build a successful state.
The writer, a former counterterrorism analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, is vice-president of research for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.