A Dictator Can’t Bring Peace to Gaza

After Hamas’s murderous ascent to power in Gaza 15 years ago, we warned in these pages that Israel’s strategy for dealing with the Palestinian leadership—one of strengthening dictatorship instead of building civil society—would undermine the prospects for peace.

We each issued similar warnings 30 years ago, after the Oslo Accords, when the free world chose to install Yasser Arafat as dictator over the Palestinian people. At the time, Arafat’s absolute power and corruption were considered advantages: The absence of a judiciary and civil society as a check would allow him to stamp out Hamas with an iron fist. That Israel, in concert with Western countries, would deposit tens of millions of dollars into his personal bank account each month would ensure that he would do as his patrons wanted. Or so the theory went.

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