Strengthen the Palestinian Authority


Officials from the Bush and Clinton administrations argue in the Washington Post that the United States needs to strengthen the Palestinian Authority:

When the dust settles in Gaza, the Obama administration will take up the mantle of moving the two sides toward an Israeli-Palestinian peace. American efforts must focus on strengthening the capabilities of the Palestinian party upon whom hope for peace can rest, the Palestinian Authority, and ensuring the stability of the West Bank. …

Fortunately, there is a path forward. American efforts can forge a basis for security between Israelis and Palestinians by developing a professional Palestinian security system that would help inhibit Hamas in the West Bank and eventually allow the PA to reestablish its authority in Gaza.

The United States already has a framework for supporting this process through the Office of the U.S. Security Coordinator (USSC), headed by Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton. Despite limited funding and support from Washington, Dayton’s mission has made considerable progress over the past year. It has overseen the training of more than 1,000 members of the Presidential Guard and the National Security Force — an armed national police. These units deployed to Jenin, and more recently to Hebron, where they began enforcing order in previously lawless cities. All sides acknowledge the achievements of this effort, yet fundamental security will emerge only when Palestinian security forces target terrorist cells and networks, not just car thieves and other ordinary criminals. And despite some recent progress, counterterrorism efforts by the Dayton-led units remain extremely limited.

To develop a professional Palestinian security force capable of conducting counterterrorism operations, Washington must substantially expand and reorient Dayton’s effort as part of the broader institutional reform of the Palestinian Authority.

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