Israeli army chief praises PA collaborators in occupied West Bank

Blinken and Abbas shake hands in front of a framed picture of Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, right, welcomes US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Israeli-occupied Ramallah on 5 November. Washington wants the PA to play a collaborationist role in Gaza following a hoped for defeat of the Palestinian resistance.

Thaer Ganaim APA images

Herzi Halevi, the Israeli army chief who is waging a genocidal extermination campaign in Gaza, on Wednesday praised the Palestinian Authority for its collaboration with occupation forces in the West Bank.

As summarized by the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz, Halevi said that the PA “has been working in recent weeks to prevent demonstrations and marches in support of Hamas and its massacre.”

The army chief made the comments to Israeli lawmakers at Hakirya, the Israeli military command compound in the heart of a Tel Aviv civilian neighborhood.

Halevi rebuffed a claim by Zvi Sukkot, a lawmaker from the ultra-far-right Jewish Power party, that Palestinian Authority security forces were preparing to turn on their Israeli partners in solidarity with Hamas.

According to Haaretz, “Halevi replied that he did not see information in the intelligence collected to prove this” and noted “that the PA works every day to prevent demonstrations in support of Hamas, first and foremost because of the interests of the PA itself.”

Halevi’s assessment confirms that of Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant, who earlier this month publicly called for tax revenues collected on the PA’s behalf by Israel to be turned over to Ramallah.

“The State of Israel is interested in maintaining stability in Judea and Samaria, always and especially during these times,” Gallant said, using Israel’s pseudo-biblical terminology for the occupied West Bank.

“The funds should be transferred immediately so that these may be used by the operational mechanism of the Palestinian Authority and by the sectors of the Palestinian Authority that are dealing with the prevention of terrorism.”

Israel refers to any sort of protest or resistance to its military dictatorship over Palestinians – even unarmed protest, boycotts and human rights advocacy – as “terrorism.”

Bringing the PA to Gaza on Israeli tanks?

Israeli lawmakers pressed Halevi on why Israel was not being even more brutal towards Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

According to Haaretz, “Halevi replied that the IDF wanted to preserve the West Bank as a quiet front, and not to introduce another front into the fighting.”

“The chief of staff also said that the United States has an interest in maintaining quiet in the West Bank and not harming the PA at this stage,” the newspaper added.

The Palestinian Authority was created in the early 1990s following the Oslo accords to act as native auxiliary on behalf of the Israeli occupation. It has performed that role – one that PA leader Mahmoud Abbas calls “sacred” – without interruption since day one.

“We need the Palestinian Authority,” Benjamin Netanyahu said in July. “We cannot allow it to collapse.”

“It does our job for us,” the Israeli prime minister added.

But the United States – as Halevi noted – is particularly concerned about preserving the PA now.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken suggested that following a hoped for Israeli defeat of the Palestinian resistance in Gaza, the Palestinian Authority could be brought in to rule the ruins of Gaza on behalf of the Israeli regime that is committing genocide there.

Abbas appears eager to extend his collaborationist rule to Gaza as well – which is undoubtedly why his security forces are doing all they can to help Israel repress resistance in the West Bank to the Gaza genocide.

Hussein al-Sheikh, the secretary general of the Abbas-controlled Palestine Liberation Organization, told The New York Times this week that the PA is open to helping Israel administer Gaza, but that it wanted “a serious American initiative” to advance a so-called two-state solution.

“This current US administration is capable of doing that,” al-Sheikh added.

That the PA would continue to flatter the US while Washington is arming Israel to exterminate hundreds of Palestinians every day underscores why the Israeli-backed Ramallah regime is repugnant to the vast majority of Palestinians inside and outside their homeland.

A poll in June found that 63 percent of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip saw the PA’s continued existence as being in Israel’s interest. Just over half of those surveyed thought that the collapse or dissolution of the PA would be in the interests of the Palestinians.

The same survey found that 80 percent of Palestinians wanted Abbas to resign as PA leader – a job he has clung to thanks to Israeli and American support without any legal mandate since his five-year term expired in 2009.

In a hypothetical presidential election between Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, 56 percent said they would vote for Haniyeh, and just 33 percent for Abbas.

Those numbers are not likely to have shifted in the PA’s direction in recent weeks.

And the more that Washington and Tel Aviv talk about bringing the Palestinian Authority collaborators to Gaza on the back of Israeli tanks, the less likely it is to ever be accepted – and that is assuming that Israel can impose its will on Gaza at all.

Israel totally dependent on US

In his briefing to lawmakers Israeli army chief Halevi confirmed the extent of Israel’s dependence on the United States to carry out its genocide in Gaza.

“The chief of staff tried to explain the importance of US coordination and assistance in the war, noting that the IDF [Israeli army] is required to acquire unique weapons that the Americans have, and that intelligence cooperation with them is critical to the army’s activity,” Haaretz reported.

“It is very important to listen to the Americans during these days on the issue of the West Bank,” Halevi added.

Late last month, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed that Israel remains completely dependent on the United States.

He was testifying at a Senate appropriations committee hearing on the Biden administration’s request for billions of dollars of additional military funding for Israel and Ukraine.

“Can Israel make it without our support?” Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, asked.

“No, I think we have to continue to support them,” Austin responded.

Deadly “quiet”

Notwithstanding Halevi’s assertion, the West Bank has been anything but “quiet,” amid a sharp upsurge in killings of Palestinians by the Israeli army and Jewish settlers.

Since the start of the year, some 2,000 Palestinians have been ethnically cleansed from their homes by Israeli settlers – an increase of more than 40 percent compared with 2022.

These attacks have only accelerated since Israel began its bombing campaign in Gaza.

Israeli soldiers and settlers have killed more than 150 Palestinians in the West Bank since 7 October, 44 of them children.

The West Bank death toll of more than 400 since the start of 2023 is the highest since the UN began keeping records in 2005.

Almost 2,400 Palestinians have been injured.

The number of fatalities in the West Bank rose again on Thursday, as Israeli occupation forces carried out yet another deadly raid on Jenin refugee camp.

At least 10 Palestinians were killed and another 20 injured.