Israel Says Palestinian Authority in Current Form Should Not Run Gaza

This handout picture provided by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on November 11, 2023, shows Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attending an emergency meeting of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in Riyadh. (SPA/AFP)
This handout picture provided by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on November 11, 2023, shows Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attending an emergency meeting of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in Riyadh. (SPA/AFP)
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Israel Says Palestinian Authority in Current Form Should Not Run Gaza

This handout picture provided by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on November 11, 2023, shows Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attending an emergency meeting of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in Riyadh. (SPA/AFP)
This handout picture provided by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on November 11, 2023, shows Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attending an emergency meeting of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in Riyadh. (SPA/AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has thrown up more doubts about the future of the Gaza Strip, suggesting that the Palestinian Authority in its current form should not take charge of the coastal enclave.

Israel has vowed to destroy Palestinian group Hamas, which governs Gaza, following its shock Oct. 7 cross-border assault, and has launched a full-scale invasion of the territory.

However, it has not spelt out who should rule the enclave once the conflict is over, saying only that Israel would maintain overall security.

Washington has said Israel cannot occupy the enclave after the war, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying last week that the Gaza administration had to be re-unified with the nearby West Bank, parts of which are run by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday that the PA could play a future role in governing the Gaza Strip, but Netanyahu indicated late Saturday he did not want the current PA rulers to be given free rein in Gaza.

At a news conference, Netanyahu aired his long-standing grievances over the PA's school syllabus, which he says fuels hatred of Israel, and its policy of giving salaries to families of Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.

"There will not be a civilian authority that teaches its children to ... eliminate the state of Israel, there can't be an authority that pays salaries to the families of murderers," he said. He added: "There can't be an authority headed by someone who, more than 30 days after the (Oct. 7) massacre, has still has not condemned (it)."

Abbas has denounced violence against civilians "on both sides" but has not issued an unequivocal condemnation of the Oct. 7 attack, where 1,200 people were killed and around 240 were kidnapped, mainly civilians, according to an Israeli tally.

Palestinian officials say more than 11,078 Gazans had been killed by Israeli strikes over the past five weeks, about 40% of them children.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesperson for Abbas, told Reuters the Israelis were seeking to perpetuate divisions between the two Palestinian territories -- the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza.

"Israeli attempts to separate Gaza from the West Bank will fail, and it will not be allowed, regardless of the pressures," he said.

The PA used to run both the West Bank and Gaza, but got ousted from the latter in 2007 after a brief conflict with Hamas.

While Western governments want to involve the PA in the future of Gaza, diplomats say, there is also concern that the 87-year-old Abbas does not have sufficient authority or the support of his people to take charge.

"Right now, there is no clear idea of what might happen in Gaza once the fighting stopped," a Jerusalem-based diplomat said.



Food Piles Up at Gaza Crossing as Aid Agencies Say Unable to Work

Humanitarian aid for Gaza has piled up at a crucial border crossing - AFP
Humanitarian aid for Gaza has piled up at a crucial border crossing - AFP
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Food Piles Up at Gaza Crossing as Aid Agencies Say Unable to Work

Humanitarian aid for Gaza has piled up at a crucial border crossing - AFP
Humanitarian aid for Gaza has piled up at a crucial border crossing - AFP

Days after Israel announced a daily pause in fighting on a key route to allow more aid into Gaza, chaos in the besieged Palestinian territory has left vital supplies piled up and undistributed in the searing summer heat, AFP reported.

More than eight months of war, sparked by Hamas's unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel, have led to dire humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip and repeated UN warnings of famine.

Desperation among Gaza's 2.4 million population has increased as fighting rages, sparking warnings from agencies that they are unable to deliver aid.

Israel says it has let supplies in and called on agencies to step up deliveries.

"The breakdown of public order and safety is increasingly endangering humanitarian workers and operations in Gaza," the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, said in a briefing late Friday.

"Alongside the fighting, criminal activities and the risk of theft and robbery has effectively prevented humanitarian access to critical locations."

But Israel says it has allowed hundreds of trucks of aid into southern Gaza, trading blame with the United Nations over why the aid is stacking up.

It shared aerial footage of containers lined up on the Gazan side of the Kerem Shalom crossing and more trucks arriving to add to the stockpile.

With civil order breaking down in Gaza, the UN says it has been unable to pick up any supplies from Kerem Shalom since Tuesday, leaving crucial aid in limbo.

A deputy UN spokesman this week said the crossing "is operating with limited functionality, including because of fighting in the area".

William Schomburg, International Committee of the Red Cross chief in Rafah, said arranging lorries from the Egyptian side in particular was complicated.

"It's not just a question of civil order, but also the fact that you often have to cross battlefields," he said in an online briefing, adding that the area near Kerem Shalom had been hostile.

"There were even rockets fired nearby. So this whole area is particularly complicated to navigate for reasons linked to the hostilities and for reasons linked to general security."

Israel's coordinator for civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories, known as COGAT, said Thursday "the content of 1,200 aid trucks awaits collection by UN aid agencies", saying a lack of distribution was responsible.

Earlier in the week, COGAT spokesman Shimon Freedman told reporters at the crossing the daily pause on a southern road into Gaza was designed to allow the UN "to collect and distribute more aid" alongside an Israeli military presence.

He said most of the aid had not moved because "organizations have not taken sufficient steps to improve their distribution capacity".

Aid agencies have instead pointed to Israel's offensive on the southern city of Rafah, which pushed out more than a million people and closed a border crossing with Egypt, as a deepening humanitarian crisis hampered relief efforts.

Schomburg described Rafah City as a "ghost town".

"It is a ghost town in the sense that you see very few people, high levels of destruction, and really just another symbol of the unfolding tragedy that has become Gaza over the last nine months," he said.

The UN food agency has said its aid convoys have been looted inside Gaza by "desperate people".

As both sides stall, it is the civilians in Gaza who are paying the price.

"We don't see any aid. Everything we get to eat comes from our own money and it's all very expensive," said Umm Mohammad Zamlat, 66, from northern Gaza but now living in Khan Yunis in the south.

"Even agencies specialized in aid deliveries are not able to provide anything to us," she added.