Strengthening the Palestinian Authority

The Paris 'Donors Conference for the Palestinian State' discussed the empowerment of the PA. This document presents one of the three concepts Reut coined to outline the different levels of Palestinian State-Building.

Definition

This concept refers to actions aimed at enhancing the authority and governing capacity of the Palestinian Authority (PA), without breaking the political constraints imposed upon the PA by the existing agreements between Israel and the PLO.

Background

Strengthening the Palestinian Authority is one out of three concepts coined by the Reut Institute to outline three different levels of Palestinian State-building.

In addition to Strengthening the PA, two additional concepts include:

  • Gestures to the PA - Actions aimed at solidifying the position of Abu-Mazen and the moderate forces within the Palestinian political system. These actions do not necessarily strengthen the institutions of the PA. Releasing Palestinian prisoners from Israel's prisons is an example of such gestures.

  • Upgrading the PA - Processes aimed at building the powers and authorities of the PA, while rescinding restrictions on the PA's attributes of sovereignty as stipulated in the Interim Agreement (5/95) signed between Israel and the PLO.

Possible Actions to Strengthen the PA

The Interim Agreement (9/95) imposed a number of constraints on the PA's attributes of sovereignty, such as: prohibiting the conduct of foreign relations; restrictions on the PA's economic independence (i.e. Israel controls the collection of import/export revenues and the PA's Customs Envelope); banning the introduction of a Palestinian currency; and limiting the PA's civic independence (e.g. the Palestinian population registry has to be reported to Israel.)1

'Strengthening' actions target only the authorities and powers that the PA is entitled to hold in light of the framework set forth by the Interim Agreement.2 These actions solidify the PA's institutions and enhance their governing capacity.

Against this backdrop, Israel and the international community can work to strengthen the PA in sectors such as the penal and judiciary systems,3 internal security (police forces)4, economy, health and education.5


1 The 'European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan' points to these restrictions: "Palestinian participation in the European Neighbourhood Policy takes place in the context of the overall political situation in the region which affects the scope of actions that can be feasibly undertaken ... Joint action will be required both to bring about the implementation of the Roadmap and to continue the preparations for statehood."

2 "[The] implementation [of the European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan] will help fulfill the provisions in the Interim Agreement (IA) and will encourage and support the Palestinian Authority's national reform objectives and further integration into European economic and social structures."

3 In July 07, the United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine published a bulletin on action taken by the UN and intergovernmental organizations: "The Quartet encouraged direct and rapid financial assistance and other aid to the Palestinian Authority Government to help reform, preserve and strengthen vital Palestinian institutions and infrastructure, and to support the rule of law ... Noting the centrality of reform, economic development and institutional capacity-building to the establishment of a stable and prosperous Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza ..."

4 "The United States has appointed James Jones, a retired general, as Middle East security envoy, with responsibility for assisting the P.A. in developing its capacity to maintain security and for overseeing Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation." (PINR, 12/4/07).

"Palestinian forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have been sent for ... training sessions ... in Russia ..., France, Germany, and Algeria. [There are] plans to send delegations of dozens of security personnel each month for training abroad." (Ynet, 12/12/07)

5 See for example UNESCO's programs for childhood care and education.