US Envoy Tells Palestinian Authority to Step Up or Else ‘Others Will Fill that Void’

The Palestinian leadership is failing, according to the US. PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Marco Castro

The top American diplomat for the Israel-Palestinian peace process rebuked the ruling Palestinian Authority (PA) on Wednesday and issued an indirect warning if they don’t do what’s necessary for their people. In response, the PA again rejected the United States’ peace efforts.

After praising efforts by Egypt to bring about an agreement for calm in Gaza and allow the PA to return to full authority in Gaza, US Envoy Jason Greenblatt pointed to the PA as hurting rather than helping. “The Palestinian Authority cannot criticize from the sidelines,” said Greenblatt in comments posted to the US State Department website. “The Palestinian Authority should be part of the solution for the Palestinians of Gaza and Palestinians as a whole. If not, others will fill that void.”

The PA was forced out of Gaza in 2007 by Hamas in a violent coup. Since then, the sides have repeatedly announced goals to reconcile, only for the plans to collapse each time. The PA reestablishing control of Gaza is considered to be an essential step before an Israel-Palestinian peace solution can be implemented if Gaza is to be included as planned. Without specifying the steps the PA need to take, Greenblatt, who is the White House Special Representative for International Negotiations, laid at least some of the blame for the region’s conflict at the feet of the PA.

“Leadership is about making hard choices. The people of Gaza, and Israelis in the area around Gaza, have suffered for far too long,” said Greenblatt. “It is time for the Palestinian Authority to lead the Palestinian people—all Palestinians—to a better future.”

The Palestinian Authority shot back at Greenblatt’s comments. Palestinian Presidential spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeinah on Thursday accused those who seek a replacement Palestinian leadership as “participating in the plot to liquidate the Palestinian cause,” according to a report from the WAFA Palestinian news agency.

Rudeinah accused Greenblatt of “interference” and said his comments were “unacceptable,” while reiterating their rejection of the American peace plan termed the “Deal of the Century.” Said the Palestinian spokesman, “We will stand up to it [the interference] as we have stood up to the deal of the century, of which this interference is an integral part.”

The day after Greenblatt voiced his critique that the PA wasn’t doing enough to bring calm to Gaza, Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett made it clear his government would defend Israelis in the south facing Gaza violence.

Speaking at a ceremony celebrating the start of the new school year in the southern town of Sderot, Bennett said in a statement released by his spokesperson that they are committed to the southern residents to “provide quiet and stability.” As for how, Bennet noted that “strong security demands a strong back.”

Said the Education Minister, “We are here to bring a clear message to our enemies on the other side of the border—this city, this spirit, you will never be able to break. The spirit of Sderot, of the State of Israel, will win out. We will return the quiet and security to Sderot and the communities around the Gaza border.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, August 30, 2018)

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