The Palestinian Authority (PA) in 2019: Challenges and Sources of Threat

To avoid the bleakest expectations and to improve the ability of the PA to confront the challenges identified in this Policy Brief, the Palestinian leadership and the ruling elite need to change the current path. The PA should also take advantage of the great media attention that will accompany the release of the Trump plan by offering its own joint Palestinian-Arab peace plan.

Four Challenges

Needless to say, the failure, since the Oslo Agreement was signed, to end the occupation and build an independent Palestinian state has been the greatest challenge to the Palestinian national movement. This failure has deprived the Palestinians of freedom, self-determination and sovereignty over their own land and to exploit their resources and develop their economy. It has allowed the consolidation of the occupation by multiplying the size of the settler population by four times. The failure to reach a peace agreement captures the essence of this crisis as negotiations took place with Israeli political parties that represented the range of the political spectrum, from the left to the right, and under an American sponsorship representing Republicans and Democrats alike.

Six Sources of Threat

Addressing the four challenges described above requires an understanding of the main sources of threat to PA stability. There are three external sources and three internal ones. The external sources of threat include Israel, the US and several regional powers. The three internal sources include Hamas, the PA leadership and ruling elite, and the absence of a constitutionally sanctioned process to select a successor to president Abbas. Israel plays the most important role: it is the occupying power and the most able to threaten PA stability and indeed survival. Israeli settlement expansion and confiscation of Palestinian land pose a threat to the integrity of Palestinian territories and could in the medium term permanently close the door to the two-state solution. Moreover, settlers’ violence poses a threat to the security and safety of Palestinians in rural areas and expose the failure and incompetence of the PA to provide a minimum level of security to areas outside the main Palestinian cities. Israel controls the main sources of Palestinian wealth, such as land, oil, and water and collects custom duties that provide a lifeline for the PA and its institutions, as these funds constitute the lion share of PA salary payment to the public sector. Roadblocks and checkpoints erected by the Israeli army to protect settlers are able to paralyze movement on Palestinian roads, diminish growth, and weaken PA ability to enforce law and order. Israeli army incursions into Palestinian cities pose a severe moral threat and serve as a source of humiliation to the PA and its security services. Israeli control over Palestinian land in area C eliminates any possible expansion or reconstruction of PA infrastructure by blocking plans for new roads and highways, laying pipes for electricity, water or communication lines, or to build new cities or exploit these areas for tourism.


To avoid the bleakest expectations and to improve the ability of the PA to confront the challenges identified above, the Palestinian leadership and the ruling elite need to change the current path. In the first place, the change should start by embarking on a reconciliation process that aims at gradually reunifying the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Such reconciliation can gradually restore legitimacy to the political system by allowing the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections and by committing the parties to the Basic Law and rule of law. Slowing down and gradually reversing the slide to authoritarianism will help restore the credibility of the Palestinian leadership thereby restoring public trust in the PA and its government and positioning the PA to be more effective in confronting the remaining two challenges: confronting US efforts in peacemaking and reengaging the US administration with confidence and confronting the approaching economic crisis that will begin to worsen in the second half of 2019 without finding itself facing potential intra-Palestinian confrontations that can only weaken the Palestinians’ ability to confront any of the challenges to their future.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store