The Republican Senator firmly backed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s stance that neither Hamas nor the Palestinian Authority can have a role in Gaza after the war.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Sunday firmly backed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s stance that neither Hamas nor the Palestinian Authority (PA) can have a role in Gaza after the war.
“I would not invest 15 cents in a future Palestine where Hamas is still standing,” Graham told ABC’s “This Week” interviewer Pierre Thomas. “Their leaders need to be killed and captured, and I wouldn’t invest 15 cents into the Palestinian Authority regarding a new Palestine. [President Mahmoud] Abbas’ Palestinian Authority is dead to me. So, when we get to the day after Israel has ceased military operations because Hamas has been destroyed, the new Palestine cannot have Hamas, and it cannot be governed by the PA.”
Graham, who is a member the Senate Appropriations Committee that has jurisdiction over all discretionary spending legislation in the Senate, which includes foreign aid, added, “I will not send one dime of American aid if Hamas is still standing.”
While U.S. President Joe Biden and other top members of his administration repeatedly supported Israel’s war goal of smashing Hamas’ power in perpetuity, they have concurrently said that their vision is that the PA should run the Gaza Strip instead, as part of a Palestinian state living “side by side” with Israel.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has conceded that the PA is not suitable for the task as yet, saying ten days ago while in Jerusalem that “We do believe that the Palestinian Authority needs to be revamped and revitalized, needs to be updated in terms of its method of governance, its representation of Palestinian people.”
He was short on details as to what this meant, adding only that this “will require a lot of work by everybody who is engaged in the Palestinian Authority, starting with the president, Mahmoud Abbas.… And ultimately, it’s going to be up to the Palestinian people to work through their representation.”
Graham, who has been one of the strongest Israel-supporters in the Senate for decades, had seemed to agree with Sullivan last week, linking to a news article quoting his words while posting to X, “The idea of the Palestinian Authority governing a consolidated West Bank and Gaza – given their track record – is impossible to imagine. The Palestinian Authority has proven to be one of the most corrupt and ineffective organizations in the region, and I can certainly understand why the main players in a new Middle East would want something new and different. Count me in for new and different, younger and less corrupt.”
This would seemingly leave a crack open for the PA, albeit in an almost unrecognizable format. It is even possible that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has publicized his disagreement with the White House on this subject, would agree if that were to be the case.
While saying that Israel won’t exchange “Hamastan” for “Fatahstan” on its borders, Netanyahu has also said that the reason for his opposition was that “The PA doesn’t fight terror it supports it. It doesn’t educate for peace, it educates for the destruction of Israel.” This could imply that if the PA stopped its pay-for-slay policy and revamped its entire educational system, his government could change its tune somewhat, although Netanyahu still insisted that Israel must always retain security control in Gaza.
However, as of now, support for Hamas, which was always a source of worry to its PA rival, has also skyrocketed in Judea and Samaria since the October 7 invasion of southern Israel, when the Gazan terror group massacred 1,200 people, the vast majority of them Israeli civilians.
In a Palestinian-run poll run from November 22 to December 2, a whopping 82% said that they supported what Hamas did during its surprise attack. Just 10% responded that they believed Hamas had committed war crimes, a fact that Israel has documented using Hamas’ own footage, including the beheading of infants and burning families alive, among many other atrocities.
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