Luciano Mondino

West Bank: Violence unleashed

Source: Wikipedia Commons

The internal Palestinian factions are unleashing violence of considerable magnitude and it remains to be seen which of them will become the next Nero ready to set fire to everything.

Terror continues to spread through Israel after a string of attacks on Israeli soil that further intensify the climate of hostility and mutual distrust in a region where peace is truly elusive. Although the political context (nationally, regionally and internationally) is very different, there are those who, with good reason, are daring to predict a drip-feed of intifada.

The attacks perpetrated against civilians and the condemnable response of a group of extremist settlers also targeting Arab civilians takes the situation to an extreme of difficult return. However, the focus is on Judea and Samaria, commonly referred to as the West Bank, as this is where yet another internal Palestinian leadership dispute is being fought.

Terrorism and the targeting of Israeli civilians are the few things that Palestinian activism today retains as its own and which it sadly uses as a political weapon not only to try to put pressure on the Israeli government, but also to settle the political, territorial and dominance dispute with Hamas and other minor clans that no longer only emanate from the Gaza Strip. In other words, the dispute between Gaza’s clans is settled according to how many rockets each group can fire into Israel’s civilian areas.

The point of no return in the Palestinian-controlled territories is defined, a priori, by two instances: an increasingly pronounced weakening in the figure of Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, and a growing attempt at interference by the Hamas terrorist group that has administered the Gaza Strip since its election victory, the expulsion of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, and Israel’s unilateral withdrawal in 2005.

The Palestinian leadership, contrary to what is often thought, is divided into increasingly inorganic groups that are sustained with the help of external actors such as the Islamic Republic of Iran and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The 87-year-old Mahmoud Abbas has become the kleptocratic warlord who has clung to power for almost two decades under a premise that is difficult for many to sustain: if the Palestinian Authority were to call the long-delayed elections, it would likely be Hamas that would take control of the West Bank. This would lead to the terrorist faction controlling the whole of the territories including Jenin and Nablus.

Within Judea and Samaria, despite the security cooperation agreements between the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority officials, there are terrorist nests that today are already classified as hotbeds and which explain why the attacks in Israeli territory are perpetrated by young people: as in Gaza, there are areas co-opted by the radicalisation of minors and young populations between 25 and 35 years of age that are already beyond the control of the leaders.

It is the upcoming Ramadan, a time of upheaval for the area and the conflict, where many of these players will move in an attempt not only to weaken Abbas, but also to begin to show signs of strength in order to dispute the inheritance and the transfer of power once the Palestinian Authority leader dies of natural causes.

Unlike Egypt and Jordan, the Palestinians are still engaged in their mental war under the slogan of driving the Jews into the sea. This explains why for the past 75 years they have rejected each and every peace settlement project presented by Israeli delegations. In 1937 they rejected the Peel Commission; in 1947 they rejected the partition plan and did not want to form their state; in 1967 they boycotted the meeting in Khartoum; in 1991 they unsuccessfully withdrew from the Madrid Summit; in 1993 they signed the Oslo Accords which they still unilaterally violate to this day; in 2000 they rejected the Camp David Accords; In 2001 they ruled out the Taba summit; in 2007 they again withdrew from the Annapolis conference; in 2008 they rejected the realignment proposal; in 2010 and 2013 they also ruled out peace talks; and in 2020 they opposed the agreement presented by Donald Trump’s administration and were alienated when Israel signed the normalisation with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

The present conjuncture is far more complex than in previous years and requires a greater effort to understand the multiple divisions that exist among Palestinians who, through their imperfection, are already burdened with the wear and tear of a senseless war that has lasted more than seven decades. The cost will continue to be paid by Israeli and Arab civilians living in the territories who also suffer from the wanderings of their leaders more concerned with absorbing resources and promoting inflammatory anti-Semitic rhetoric. No appeasement is possible as long as the slogan of driving the Jews into the sea remains the essence of a cause that tries to present itself to the rest of the world as a resistance.

The internal Palestinian factions are unleashing violence of considerable magnitude and it remains to be seen which of them will become the next Nero ready to set fire to everything.

About the Author
Master's Degree in International Politics from the Complutense University of Madrid. Interested in transnational terrorism, organized crime, radicalism and the fight against anti-Semitism.
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