Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently told lawmakers that Israel “needs the Palestinian Authority,” according to a report Monday morning. At the same time, he also reportedly said Israel “needs to crush [the Palestinian] ambition” for an independent state.
Speaking earlier this month at a closed-door meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Netanyahu said Israel “has an interest in seeing that the PA continues to function” and is “prepared to assist it economically,” the Kan public broadcaster reported.
“Where it’s successfully operating, it does our job for us,” he was quoted as saying, apparently referring to PA counterterrorist operations in areas of the West Bank where it is in charge of security, known as Area A.
Netanyahu also reportedly said Israel is “preparing for the day after Abu Mazen,” using the nom de guerre of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, amid speculation about the 87-year-old Palestinian leader’s health and declining popularity.
The premier’s reported remarks came as PA has increasingly lost control over the northern West Bank, creating a power vacuum that Israel has tried to fill by increasingly carrying out operations in the area following a series of deadly terror attacks.
Israel and the PA have also been at odds over the policies of Netanyahu’s government, which since taking office in late December has moved to vastly expand settlements in the West Bank, which the Palestinians claim for a future state along with the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
Last week, a top aide to Abbas announced the PA would boycott an economic meeting with Israel — the first of its kind since 2009 — to protest the government’s approval of a measure aimed at easing the approval process for West Bank settlement construction. The move came the same day that the government announced a plan to advance a long-stalled proposal to develop a gas field off the coast of Gaza, seen as a potential boon to the Palestinian economy.