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Israel's Gallant calls to strengthen PA to challenge right

Israel's Gallant calls to strengthen Palestinian Authority in challenge to far-right
3 min read
15 January, 2024
The calls from Gallant came as the economic and political situation deteriorated in the occupied West Bank and Israel continued daily raids in the territory.
Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images]

Israel's Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has called for strengthening the Palestinian Authority (PA) over fears of instability in the West Bank.

Gallant warned that "Hamas is trying to connect between Gaza and [the occupied West Bank] to rile up the area".

Gallant, tipped to be a future leader of Israel, has locked horns with far-right members of the Israeli government over security issues.

He warned that Israel's ban on Palestinian workers from the West Bank entering Israel and its refusal to release tax funds to the PA was helping to fuel unrest in the occupied territory and potentially damage Israel's war goals in Gaza.

Those official war goals are reportedly the freeing of hostages held in Gaza and the destruction of Hamas' military and governing capabilities.

Israel's brutal onslaught on the enclave has killed at least 24,100 Palestinians - 70 percent of which are children and women - with a further 60,834 injured leaving the besieged enclave in ruins.

Israel has also intensified raids on the occupied West Bank killing at least 347 Palestinians in the territory since 7 October and injuring over 4,000, with over 5,800 also being arrested in the raids - mostly held under administrative detention.

Gallant said that despite the huge crackdown by Israeli forces, security in the occupied West Bank hinges on the PA.

"I will say this in the clearest way possible: A strong Palestinian Authority is in the best security interests of Israel," he said.

The Israeli military has warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the threat of a "third intifada" erupting in the occupied West Bank.

Since 7 October, Israel has refused to allow some 150,000 Palestinian workers to return to their jobs in Israel, contributing to a drop of 32 percent in employment in the territory according to the UN's International Labour Organization.

Likewise, Israel's finance ministry under far-right Bezalel Smotrich has refused to hand over taxes collected on behalf of the PA, saying that "we will not transfer a shekel to the Palestinian Authority that will reach the families of Nazis in Gaza".

The PA has refused all taxes collected by Israel unless it receives tax revenue that is redistributed for Gaza's governance. It has agreed to a plan for Norway to hold the taxes on behalf of the PA until after the war but this was rejected by Netanyahu following pressure from far-right ministers.

Netanyahu has also refused to agree to PA rule in post-war Gaza, although Gallant set out plans to allow Palestinians in Gaza to govern themselves earlier in January hinting at a rift in the Israeli cabinet between the right and far-right.

On Saturday, Gallant reportedly stormed out of a cabinet meeting, telling Netanyahu to "stop getting in the way of my work" following the exclusion of the defence minister's aides from government talks.