The third step will need to be action taken by Israel to bolster the Palestinian Authority. This needs to include a free flow of funds from Israel to the PA, tighter security coordination as well as Israeli moves in the West Bank to rein in Jewish violence and illegal outpost expansion.
The fourth step will be for Israel to announce that as part of the new security approach it will initiate a diplomatic dialogue with the PA after the war aimed at reaching new understandings.
This will be tricky, since what Israel will need to make clear is that a “diplomatic dialogue” is not another term for a two-state solution in the way that we used to think, prior to Oct. 7. What it will refer to is a dialogue meant to create trust, understandings, coordination and a potential way forward — not a state, but a way to create a better future.
None of this, however, will be possible without deep and substantial reforms within the PA, which for decades has undermined its own standing among the Palestinian people.
The first step for the PA will be for its leaders to stop talking in two voices — to make a decision that it is on the side of the Arab states which have chosen to live in peace with Israel, as opposed to the Iran-backed terrorist groups that seek to eliminate it. This will be made through a public declaration that the PA is joining the movement of normalization started by the Abraham Accords.
The second step will be serious and comprehensive governmental reforms and a stop to corruption, still rampant in many government offices. The PA’s failure to embark on comprehensive reforms or hold long-overdue elections have severely harmed its credibility. Prior to its expulsion from Gaza in 2007, the PA and its security forces were detested by many Palestinians there, mainly because of the corruption and human rights violations. If the PA remains the way it is now, it will be unrealistic to expect the Palestinians in Gaza to welcome it back into Gaza City.
The third step is to stop the incitements to violence — to end especially to the system that pays salaries to terrorists jailed in Israel and directly encourages the murder of Jews. While the PA officially maintains security coordination with the IDF in the West Bank, its education system is also full of anti-Israel texts and rhetoric. Incitement and the pay-for-slay system need to come to an immediate end. This has confused Palestinians as to the true intentions of the PA, which is why many have lost confidence in the Ramallah-based leadership.
The fourth step is the most difficult. PA President Mahmoud Abbas is in the 18th year of a four-year term and viewed by many Palestinians as an illegitimate leader. As such, he does not have a mandate to move a diplomatic process forward with Israel on behalf of a majority of the Palestinians. New leadership will be needed, and it will require the involvement of the Americans, Egyptians and Saudis.
There is leverage, though. Palestinians are almost entirely dependent on American and European financial aid. The U.S. and EU should therefore use their funds to demand that the PA enact the necessary reforms and take the steps needed to allow for a diplomatic path forward. Everyone will need to make concessions now to create a better future that is safe and sustainable for both sides.
While this is not perfect — not for Israel, not for the PA and not for the U.S. – this is a potential path forward for when this war ends. It can create more secure borders for Israel, a Gaza free of Hamas’s violent reign, a more prosperous environment in the West Bank, and a path toward a better future for Israelis and Palestinians.
Yaakov Katz is a Senior Fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute, a former editor of the Jerusalem Post and the author of three books on Israeli military affairs. Khaled Abu Toameh is a Jerusalem-based Palestinian affairs reporter and analyst.