The COVID-19 pandemic and the Israeli government’s plans to further annex occupied Palestinian territories have shown the Palestinian leadership—once again—what it means to run a government without sovereignty. The recently announced deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates is further evidence of the leadership’s inability to influence events that shape the fate of the Palestinian people.
These recent developments underscore the failure of the Palestinian Authority (PA) statehood project, and with it the two-state solution paradigm. Israel’s annexation plans—which are still on the table, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—would leave fragmented West Bank enclaves under nominal PA control, with ultimate control exercised by Israel, as has been the case since the occupation began in 1967.
Similarly, Hamas would rule the Gaza Strip within the narrow confines of the Israeli siege imposed in 2007 and supported by Egypt. These outcomes are neither what the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leadership envisaged when it signed the Oslo Accords with Israel beginning in 1993, nor what the international community intended to sponsor when it agreed to support peace efforts in the region.
The PA, initially established as an interim government, has from the start been unable to defend its territory and population against the expansionist Israeli colonial project, or to manage an economically viable entity that could ensure a dignified livelihood for the Palestinians, especially at times of acute crisis.