In the reality of the zero-sum game between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA), a strong Hamas and a strong PA cannot coexist. The weakness of the PA alongside a strengthened Hamas, compounded by the erosion of deterrence against Hezbollah and Iran and the increased likelihood of a multi-front conflict, poses a strategic dilemma for Israel. Israel must define its strategic goal vis-à-vis the Palestinian arena, and consider whether there is any value to a formative military move against Hamas that is not part of a broader political plan. Weakened military capabilities would significantly reduce the challenge Hamas poses to the PA that accelerates its weakening, and remove an obstacle to effective moves to strengthen the PA. A weakened Hamas would also loosen the Gordian knot between the various arenas that Hamas seeks to tighten, and presumably also strengthen Israeli deterrence in the region. Under the existing political conditions, the current Israeli government is unlikely to agree on the need to strengthen the PA, or at least stop weakening it. Therefore, the government does not face a strategic dilemma on taking proactive steps to strengthen the PA, even though the PA's weakness harms Israeli interests: a move of this magnitude can only be led by a national unity government with broad public backing. At the same time, the status of the Palestinian Authority is so shaky and problematic that it is doubtful it can be restored under the existing conditions.
|Cyfnodolyn||Strategic Assessment: A Multidisciplinary Journal on National Security|
|Statws||Cyhoeddwyd - 29 Meh 2023|