Secretary Blinken meets with Palestinian President Abbas in Ramallah, November 2023. (Credit: State Department/Chuck Kennedy)

One of the most talked-about topics in Israeli public discourse since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war is the collapse of what Israelis call “the conception,” the assumptions regarding the intentions, capabilities and willingness of the Palestinian people and its leadership to wage war. The paradigm that has shaped Israel’s military and political strategy for decades went up in smoke, blood and tears as the horrors of Oct. 7 unfolded.

Since that day, the discourse on “the day after” the war has been awash with statements by experts, real and imagined — every current or past politician, every military has-been, every pundit, every analyst, every taxi driver and talk-show host — on the need to uproot the failed paradigm and correct the wishful thinking vis-à-vis Hamas and the Gaza Strip that led to the massacre along Israel’s southern border.

Unfortunately, the very same paradigm is alive and well when it comes to Judea and Samaria, particularly regarding the day after the war and the feasibility of handing control of the entirety of the disputed territories — Judea, Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip — to the Palestinian Authority.

The most excruciating evidence of enduring wishful thinking was brought into focus by a recently-published report by the Regavim Movement, titled “Officers by Day, Terrorists by Night,” which exposes the Palestinian Authority’s involvement in acts of terrorism perpetrated against Israeli citizens and soldiers.

The PA’s ongoing and ever-expanding payroll of terrorists is perhaps the most infamous aspect of its shameless support for terrorism, but it is far from the only one. Aside from being a violation of the very core of the Oslo framework and a betrayal of the PA’s mandate, this brazen support for murder makes US support for the PA illegal, as per the Taylor Force Act (H.R. 1164, S. 1697), passed by Congress in 2018 with the express purpose of conditioning all US aid to the PA on it ending its “pay-for-slay” policy.

In an Orwellian masterstroke, this week PA representatives are in Washington, D.C., working with administration officials to “redefine” the flow of funds in order to circumvent the Taylor Force Act. Payments to the families of eliminated terrorists are to be categorized as “support for Palestinian families in crisis.” The incentivization of terrorism will continue, but will be recast as humanitarian aid.

As if that weren’t bad enough, “Officers by Day, Terrorists by Night” exposes another level of institutional terrorism in the PA, detailing acts of terrorism committed by those already on the PA payroll. Members of official branches of the Palestinian security framework play a dual role; on the one hand, they serve in the policing and security entities tasked with prevention and eradication of Palestinian terrorism, while at the same time, many of these same officers are themselves perpetrators of unspeakable acts of terrorism against Israeli civilians and security forces.

The report’s findings have been reinforced in the two weeks since its publication, as PA Security Force officers have carried out additional terrorist attacks — including machine-gunning a school bus full of children, shooting up a vehicle and wounding two far-left “peace activists” and, in another incident, evading a five-hour Israel Defense Forces manhunt after wounding seven Israeli civilians. 

Although senior Fatah and PASF officials have already made it very clear that members of all branches of the Palestinian security system are actively involved in the struggle against “the occupation,” and take great pride in the large and growing number of “martyrs” and prisoners from among their ranks, key members of Israel’s political and military decision-making elite refuse to so much as entertain the possibility that the PA may turn its guns on Israel in the foreseeable future. Let alone admitting that this is not only the current reality, but has been the case since the moment the PA and its security apparatus were created under the Oslo Accords. 

The notion that on the day after the war the very same Palestinian “security mechanisms,” which are actually terrorist mechanisms, will bear responsibility for Judea and Samaria, as well as for the Gaza Strip,  is the definition of insanity. The PA and its “security” mechanisms see themselves as the executive arm of the jihad, entrusted with the dual mission of conquering Israel and eradicating the Jewish people. The unequivocal words, the murderous actions and the pay-for-slay policies of the PA leave no room for doubt or denial.

To believe any statement to the contrary, made in service of any other interest or by any other “authority,” is tantamount to burying one’s head in the sand, and poses an existential threat to the State of Israel and to the moral underpinnings of peace-loving democratic societies worldwide.

This article first appeared on JNS

PRESIDENT ISAAC Herzog speaks as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken looks on, in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. While the PA proudly declares its full partnership with Hamas, the US continues to maintain that this twisted leadership is a viable alternative for post-war Gaza, says the writer.

Many Israelis have begun to understand that on the “day after,” we cannot simply revert to the “day before.”

The basic, underlying assumptions and security paradigms upon which Israeli policy has been built for decades came crashing down on October 7. On that day, it became painfully clear that the underlying assumptions upon which Israel has based its relationship with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and with the Arab population of Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip were rooted in fallacies, misconceptions, and even self-delusion.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, we continued to pretend – and behave – as if we had a partner that shared the values we Israelis cherish, and we ascribed our own aspirations to our Palestinian interlocutors: to live in peace and prosperity; to provide a better future for our families; and to live in dignity under strong democratic institutions that protect our values and nurture progress and development.

Unfortunately, all our wishful thinking was proven to be nothing more than self-delusion but if misery loves company, we can console ourselves in the knowledge that we are not alone in this massive failure. Our Western allies – principal among them our closest and staunchest ally, the United States – continue to operate under the same delusions.

Palestinian Authority declares full partnership with Hamas

While the PA proudly declares its full partnership with Hamas, not only in spirit but also in the murderous actions of October 7, the US continues to maintain that this twisted leadership is a viable alternative for post-war Gaza. The “martyrs” and “prisoners” funded by the PA – those who either succeeded or attempted to murder Israelis but were neutralized or apprehended by the IDF – are as much a testament to the PA’s intentions as the official PA curriculum, the countless public pronouncements by PA officials, or the refusal of the PA to amend its charter, which continues to call for jihad and the eradication of Israel.

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY head Mahmoud Abbas attends Christmas Midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, last year. Abbas, in recent years, has depicted Jesus as Palestinian, says the writer. (credit: Ahmad Gharabli/Reuters)

Similarly, the unchecked illegal PA program of de facto annexation of areas under full Israeli jurisdiction – “Area C” – has been willfully ignored by successive Israeli governments in the decades since the PA launched the Fayyad Plan. This openly violates international law with the support of the European Union and a host of governments that pay lip service to their commitment to that same law and to “a negotiated resolution of the conflict.” Israel continues to cling to collapsed enforcement paradigms and delusional “appeasement” and “tolerance” that have turned its national interest into nothing more than a rumor.

It’s time for a reality check. It’s time to reexamine the underlying assumptions and begin to rebuild our security paradigm. Some in the US have started to demand that their government shake off the reverie of self-delusion; a recent opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal calling for an end to US tax dollars funding the PA’s pay-for-slay program, to which the October 7 murderers have been added, is a case in point.

Israelis should be doing the same.