According to an op-ed article in The Times of Israel by senior Israeli journalist Tal Schneider, Natanyahu and his advisors took the approach to prevent Abbas — or anyone else in the Palestinian Authority’s West Bank government — from advancing towards the establishment of a Palestinian state.
‘Israel saw Hamas as an asset’
In this effort, Hamas was upgraded from a mere terror group to an organisation with which Israel held indirect negotiations via Egypt, and one that was allowed to receive infusions of cash from abroad, said Schneider.
Hamas was also included in discussions about increasing the number of work permits Israel granted to Gazan labourers, which kept money flowing into Gaza.
Toward the end of Netanyahu’s fifth government in 2021, approximately 2,000-3,000 work permits were issued to Gazans. This number climbed to 5,000 and, during the Bennett-Lapid government, rose sharply to 10,000, said Schneider.
Since Netanyahu returned to power in January 2023, the number of work permits has climbed to nearly 20,000.
Additionally, since 2014, the Netanyahu-led governments have practically turned a blind eye to the incendiary balloons and rocket fire from Gaza in order to maintain its fragile ceasefire with the Hamas rulers of the Strip.
Most of the time, Israeli policy was to treat the Palestinian Authority as a burden and Hamas as an asset.
Schneider said that Netanyahu, during a meeting of his Likud party in 2018, had reportedly said that those who oppose a Palestinian state should support the transfer of funds to Gaza, as maintaining separation between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza would prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.
This policy of propping up Hamas has now backfired spectacularly with one of the bloodiest days suffered by Israel as Hamas terrorists slaughtered hundreds of Israelis and kidnapped an unknown number under the cover of thousands of rockets fired at towns throughout the country’s south and centre.
Just a few days ago, Assaf Pozilov, a reporter for the Kan public broadcaster, tweeted the following: “The Islamic Jihad organisation has started a noisy exercise very close to the border, in which they practiced launching missiles, breaking into Israel and kidnapping soldiers.”
Hamas became stronger and used the auspices of peace that Israelis so longed for as cover for its training, and hundreds of Israelis have paid with their lives for this massive omission, added Schneider.