The Palestinian System: Between Institutionalization and Anarchy

The establishment of a Palestinian address depends on the success of the institutionalization process promoted by the Palestinian Authority political leadership and its capacity to deal with the challenges raised by extreme groups.

Developments in the Palestinian arena reflect a struggle within the PA between two streams with contradictory interests.

On one hand, non-state armed groups interested in dividing the Palestinian system and weakening the central government are growing stronger, even within Hamas which until now had been characterized by unity compared to Fatah (see Crisis of Palestinian Representation):

  • Intensifying debate within Hamas over the establishment of a Palestinian National Unity government, mainly between Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashal who supported the Mecca Agreement and the Unity Government and Said Siam, Mahmud Zahar and Abu Zuhari who opposed it.

  • Increasing activity such as kidnapping and violence against music and book stores in the Gaza Strip by small organizations which ideologically identify with al Qaeda.

On the other hand, the political leadership of Hamas and Fatah is working to formalize its de facto control into the political system and its institutions:

  • The PA approved interior minister Hani al-Qawasmi's plan to return order and eliminate anarchy. According to the plan, all security organizations will be coordinated and unified under a single military authority.

  • Abu Mazen appointed a National Security Council to unify the various Palestinian security organizations.

  • Abu Mazen and PM Olmert agreed to implement a plan based on American General Keith Dayton's ideas to station Abu Mazen's Presidential Guard at the Karni Crossing and deploy them around Gaza's external perimeter to prevent the firing of Qassam rockets.

The Reut Institute contends that establishment of a Palestinian address depends on the success of (1) the institutionalization process promoted by the political leadership of Hamas and Fatah, and (2) the leadership's capacity to deal with the challenges raised by factional groups.

The success of the institutionalization process depends to a large extent on the policies of Israel and the international community towards the PA.

Sources

Ma'an News Agency, 4/14/07; full article.

The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, News of the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation 1-15th April, full article (in Hebrew).

Herb Keinon and Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post, 4/14/07; full article.