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Palestinian Authority’s leadership in a post-Hamas Gaza could be beneficial despite lack of legitimacy, say analysts

The Palestinian Authority (PA), which exercises limited self-rule in parts of the West Bank, has potential to return to power in the Gaza Strip in a post-Hamas scenario – at least in the short term – despite its lack of popularity, analysts said on Monday (Nov 6).

This comes as the United States turns its attention to a future of a possible power vacuum in the area if Hamas is removed from power.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a surprise visit to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday, in his second trip to the region since Israel declared war on militant group Hamas with an aim of dismantling it.

Mr Blinken told Mr Abbas that the US sees the PA playing a “central role” in the future of the Gaza Strip.

While there has been no guidance yet on what that post-conflict state is going to look like or what the political situation will be, part of the purpose of the meeting was identifying possible pathways to a temporary governing system run by the PA in Gaza until a long-term solution can be found, political scientist Benjamin Radd from American university UCLA told CNA’s Asia First.

“Restoring Palestinian Authority connection to Gaza and bringing some leadership elements to that area would be very beneficial and I think that’s what the US is going to try to secure,” said Dr Radd, whose expertise is in government and politics in the Middle East.

The Gaza Strip was governed by PA for about a decade until 2007, when Hamas took over the enclave after throwing out its leadership following a brief civil war.

PA LACKS LEGITIMACY

However, PA – largely seen as the caretaker of a degenerating security and political situation for Palestinians – lacks legitimacy amongst the public, said Dr Simon Pratt, lecturer of political science at University of Melbourne.

“It has very limited scope to really participate in whatever post-conflict outcome might emerge,” he told CNA938’s Asia First.

“It’s also relatively insignificant diplomatically at the moment, because whatever Abbas says or doesn’t say will have no influence on what Israel does or what Hamas does.”

Still, with a “high probability” of a post-conflict situation involving some recommitment to the suspended peace process between Israel and Palestinians, “any negotiations that do occur will have to be with the Palestinian Authority”, he noted.

“It’s not an irrelevant player,” said Dr Pratt, who specialises in international politics.

He added that “everybody’s very concerned about what would happen if there were was a vacuum of power in the Gaza area”.

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