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    Will a Palestinian ‘popular resistance’ lead to an Intifada?

    PA official: We’re not calling for Third Intifada

    PALESTINIANS BURN tires in a demonstration during the First Intifada in Ramallah in 1988 (photo credit: GPO)

    PALESTINIANS BURN tires in a demonstration during the First Intifada in Ramallah in 1988

    (photo credit: GPO)

    The Palestinian Authority won’t allow scenes of anarchy and lawlessness, if and when Israel implements its plan to extend sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, PA officials in Ramallah said on Sunday.

    On the other hand, the PA won’t stop Palestinians from holding mass demonstrations against the annexation, although it’s aware that the protests could lead to another intifada against Israel, the officials said.

    “We’re not calling for a third intifada,” a senior PA official told The Jerusalem Post. “We are just warning that Israel’s actions and measures could lead to a new intifada and destabilize security in the region.”

    The official said that the policy of the PA and the ruling Fatah faction was to encourage a “peaceful and popular resistance” in the West Bank, while discouraging “armed attacks that would play into the hands of the Israeli government and the Israeli right-wing parties.”

    Although the PA has suspended security coordination with Israel, the official noted, “we remain opposed to armed attacks because they would cause huge damage to the Palestinian issue.”

    Meanwhile, just over two weeks before the earliest date the government set for possibly extending sovereignty in parts of the West Bank, no final map has been drawn.

    US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his close confidant Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin, as well as Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi in Jerusalem on Sunday to discuss whether and how to move forward with extending Israeli law to parts of the West Bank.

    The meeting ended after about two hours, and they agreed to meet again on Monday.

    Last week, PA officials confirmed that there was increased cooperation between the PA security forces and Fatah armed groups, including the Tanzim and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, especially since the outbreak of the coronavirus in PA-controlled areas in March. The cooperation increased after PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s May 18 decision to renounce all agreements and understandings with Israel and the US, including security cooperation, the officials revealed.

    A PA security official, however, told the Post that the cooperation “should not be interpreted as a green light” for carrying out armed attacks against Israel. “The Palestinian Authority won’t allow any group to carry out armed attacks against Israelis,” the official emphasized. “We believe that such attacks would benefit the [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu government and cause damage to the Palestinian cause.”

    Palestinian political analyst Ahmad Eid said that the general feeling is that there won’t be an eruption of large-scale protests or armed attacks even if Israel proceeds with its “annexation” plan.

    “The Palestinian public is not ready for another intifada,” Eid said. “People seem to be more worried about the economy than the annexation plan. That’s why we haven’t seen many Palestinians take to the streets to protest the annexation. Last week, the Palestinian leadership hardly managed to get 200 people to demonstrate in Ramallah against the annexation.”

    Abdel Qader Sulieman, a veteran Fatah activist, also ruled out the possibility that Palestinians would launch a new intifada against Israel over the plan. “An intifada would be counterproductive, especially in light of the success of the Palestinian diplomacy in rallying many countries against the Israeli plan,” Sulieman said. “If we return to the armed struggle, we will lose the sympathy of the international community. We don’t want to repeat the mistakes we committed during the Second Intifada.”

    Other Palestinians, meanwhile, said that the PA leadership’s growing incitement against Israel could drive Palestinians to launch terrorist attacks against IDF soldiers and settlers in the West Bank, paving the way for the eruption of another intifada. “There’s always the possibility that Fatah groups might interpret the leadership’s harsh criticism of Israel as a green light for launching armed attacks,” said a former member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. “A lot also depends on Israel’s actions and measures on the ground. As long as the Israeli response is muted and limited, I don’t believe we will see a new intifada.”

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