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The Palestinian Authority will "need a lot" of support to regain control in the Gaza Strip and restore order once the war ends, a senior EU official said on Saturday.
For more than a decade the PA has been absent from the Gaza Strip after Hamas's win in the 2006 legislative elections and its subsequent victory in the Battle of Gaza, which saw the Islamist group take complete control of the enclave in 2007.
But as Israel continues its air and ground campaign in the Strip, which has so far killed at least 12,000 Palestinians including 5,000 children, some Arab and western leaders have suggested only the PA can run Gaza after the Israel-Hamas war is over.
"They say they are ready," the senior European official told The National, on the sidelines of the the IISS Manama Dialogue 2023 in Bahrain.
"The PA is ready to retake their role as the Palestinian authority in Gaza, they showed clearly their will to retake their political duty in Gaza."
Mohammad Shtayyeh, the Palestinian Authority's Prime Minister, said at the end of October that the PA would not return to governing Gaza without a comprehensive deal that includes the occupied West Bank in a Palestinian state.
The EU official said the PA "will need a lot of help to rebuild that statehood".
For years they have been "providing services inside Gaza, who do you think has been funding schools and hospitals in Gaza, Hamas? No, it's the Palestinian Authority," the official said.
The challenge is not to rebuild Gaza physically again but it is about engaging the Gaza Strip as part of the West Bank, the official said.
The continuing war began when Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, with its fighters breaching the heavily militarised border, killing about 1,200 Israelis – mostly civilians – and taking about 240 hostages, according to Israeli officials.
The EU official said the PA has been the only authority in the Gaza Strip that has provided everything to "make a country work."
"The civilian side of life [in the Gaza Strip] is in the hands of the PA," said the official.
There are more than 40,000 staff in Gaza, civil servants, those that are running schools and hospitals, who are paid by the PA, said the European official.
"Only the security issues inside the Strip are in the hands of Hamas," he said.
The European official added, "tens of thousands of staff inside Gaza are being paid by the Palestinian Authority, helping the people in Gaza".
He reiterated that the issue now is not to rebuild Gaza "as it has been rehabilitated at least four times", but rebuilding and strengthen the Palestinian statehood.
The vital point here is "building a statehood of Gaza as part of the Palestinian territory and people, I know think it looks ambitious and maybe difficult to believe that this may happen," he said.