US Officials Push for Fresh Faces in Palestinian Leadership

A series of senior US officials have traveled to the West Bank in recent weeks to meet with Mahmoud Abbas in the hope of changing the unpopular leadership in the Palestinian Authority so it could take charge in Gaza after the Israel-Hamas conflict comes to an end. Joe Biden wants to revitalize the Palestinian Authority and unify its administration with the West Bank, with Jake Sullivan and Antony Blinken meeting with Abbas to discuss the reforms needed to improve the organization. This would involve Abbas ceding control over the Authority and appointing new leaders to the organization. While the US has not proposed any specific names, they have urged for the PA to reform, which could include bringing in new officials with technocratic skills and expanding the prime minister’s executive powers. US officials recognize that Abbas, despite being unpopular domestically, remains the only realistic leadership figure while urging Israeli leaders to allow the PA to play a leading role in post-conflict Gaza. Plans for the future of Gaza remain in discussion, with international condemnation of Israel’s offensive increasing as the death toll rises while Netanyahu insists the war will continue until Hamas is weakened. However, the US is urging for a lower-intensity operation from Israel focused on high-value targets and for security forces from the PA to have a presence in Gaza after the war. US officials believe the PA has the potential to regain credibility among Palestinians through the reforms that are needed and see the US sponsoring an international peace conference to agree on the final steps leading to a Palestinian state. Palestinian and US leaders are calling on the US to press Israel harder to allow for the establishment of a Palestinian state, despite some misgivings about the PA’s leadership.