Obada Nawawra spoke with friends in a restaurant in Bethlehem. Outside the window, the terraced hills rolled around the old West Bank into the distance. It was early June, and most restaurants were closed to Ramadan; Apart from a tourist desk, the large square was almost empty. As the conversation shifted to the theme of the Palestinian Authority (PA) -the semi-autonomous government in the Israeli-occupied West Bank-the inactive waiters were getting closer to Nawawra's table.
The 25-year-old took a historically mainstream position: The PA is an important institution for keeping peace in Palestinian enclaves. "Without the authority," he said, there would be lawlessness ̵
After years of allegations of corruption and collusion with Israel, the PA is viewed with increasing suspicion by this generation, whose parents dreamed of a Palestinian state and an end to Israeli occupation, but they have observed illegal Israeli immigration They have listened to the barrage of far-right Israeli politicians, such as the Likud Party, who called for a "Greater Israel" that would take back the territory and not give it away, watching how the Arab world came closer to Israel and theirs Attention to the threat posed by Iran.
This Ä fears have got a new urgency. In January, President Donald Trump blocked the funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which supports and represents Palestinian refugees in the Middle East. A month earlier, he had announced that the US embassy would move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, a clear message that his government was officially and clearly linked to Israel. Jerusalem includes sites that are sacred to both Muslims and Jews and Christians, and Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state borders in the Oslo Accords of 1993 or in the Arab-Israeli peace process that established Palestinian self-government in the Gaza Strip, claimed Strip and Jordan. After decades of Israeli-Israeli negotiations between Israel and Palestine, Trump's decision undermines America's credibility as a neutral party that nullifies hope for a peace treaty. To make matters worse: Twelve years after a nominal term of four years, PA President Mahmoud Abbas is ill and there is no clear plan for succession.
Abbas has been in office for 13 years without a presidential election since 2005. Critics say he has eroded Palestinian politics and left little room for opposition, alternative leadership or generational change. More than two-thirds of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip want him to resign. Instead, Abbas is accused of digging in and stifling dissenting opinions; A new Cybercrime Act has made it even harder for the Palestinians to voice opposition.
Everyone interviewed for this story said elections must take place – even if some, like Nawawra, said they would not vote given the likely alternatives. Two PA insiders are at the top of the list: 68-year-old Mahmoud al-Aloul and 65-year-old Jibril Rajoub, former head of the West Bank security forces and now head of the Palestinian Football Association. The third, Majd Faraj, a media-savvy, Hebrew-speaking spy chief, is a popular choice among Israelis and Americans. He is not a member of Fatah's elite Central Committee, which is a constitutional requirement, but his name continues to circulate and a workaround could be found.
Nawawra's first choice would be a man whom he encountered during his days in prison. The militant became peace activist Marwan Barghouti, a former Fatah leader. He is a rare Palestinian unityist, but he is serving several life sentences for the organization of suicide attacks (an indictment he denies).
Fatah-led PA governs 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank, the majority of these people believe it has "become a burden." Close co-ordination of security with Israel is the PA's main selling point internationally. And it has helped to keep Israel safe by thwarting Palestinian attacks and crimes. But this only leads to resentment, as the Palestinians accuse the PA security forces of contributing to the maintenance of the occupation by throwing a wide net against dissenters and sacrificing and displacing family members and friends from two sides.
Hanan Ashrawi, 71, one of the few female politicians at the forefront of Palestinian politics, is pushing for a reformed PLO to replace the PA. Its accessibility and sharp English have made it a popular public face of the Palestinian national movement. Still, the younger generation in the old guard is wary. Ashrawi understands this and she understands why she has lost faith in the peace process, but she still faces a one-state path.
"Israel systematically destroys the two-state solution," she says Newsweek but "when we move towards a de facto one-state solution, it scares me that we are the occupation itself Israel will be able to expand the settlements and create Greater Israel while we are in a state of enslavement. "
Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki says there is a desire for self-determination young people, but the belief is that a multinational state will "prevail in the end".
If true, that means that Israeli, US, and PA officials are completely cut off from a generation of Palestinians.