Netanyahu and the challenge in the Palestinian arena

The new Netanyahu government is facing difficult challenges in the Palestinian arena, chief among them is stopping the wave of terrorism and establishing a relationship with the PA that is getting weaker and weaker. President Biden is not interested in a confrontation with the Netanyahu government, but some in the Democratic Party believe that the confrontation with it is only a matter of time and call on him to restrain the Netanyahu government.

There is great anger in the West Bank following the incident at the end of last week, during which an officer of the Border Police shot dead a Palestinian terrorist named Amar Mufleh from the village of Osarin near Nablus after he stabbed him with a knife and tried to steal his weapon in the village of Hawara in the Nablus region.

The popular anger is also directed towards the PA and not only towards Israel, and this is because of the security coordination between the two sides.

The chairman of the PA , Abu Mazen, is furious and he published a condemnation of the killing of the young Palestinian, in his message, Abu Mazen said that this was an “execution and a serious crime that requires giving International protection for the Palestinians to protect them from Israel”.

According to senior PA sources, PA chairman Abu Mazen is debating what steps to take following Netanyahu’s return to power, so far he has avoided calling him and congratulating him on his victory in the elections, even though other Arab leaders have done so, for example Abdullah, King of Jordan.

Abu Mazen is debating whether to implement the decisions of the PLO Central Council that were made a long time ago, to freeze the Oslo Accords and suspend security coordination with Israel.

Two weeks ago, Abu Mazen convened the PLO Executive Committee to discuss the possible scenarios of the right-wing returning to power in Israel and the activities of the IDF and the settlers in the West Bank.

Abu Mazen opposes another armed intifada against Israel and he believes that it will bring disaster to the Palestinians, but he supports “popular resistance” such as demonstrations, roadblocks, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails.

Abu Mazen told the members of the PLO Executive Committee that he does not trust the American administration and its mediation, therefore he increases the dialogue with the international community in order to denounce Israel, he works to isolate Israel in the international arena and turn it into a politically “leper state”.

Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu, who will soon launch his sixth government, is very worried about the international reactions to his new government, which stars two representatives who are considered radical politicians such as Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich.

Therefore, he gave an interview to a well-known American podcast called “Common Sense” in which he clarified that he is the one who will determine his government’s policy on the sensitive political and security issues.

Netanyahu is faced with two main issues in the Palestinian arena on which he is required to decide: the continuation of the wave of terrorism in the West Bank and the continuing process of the weakening of the PA.

The question being asked is whether he will take a tougher hand against the increasing Palestinian terrorism compared to his predecessors and whether he will act to strengthen the PA that has begun to weaken from a security point of view?

It can be estimated that Netanyahu will not harm the relations with the American administration with which Israel has a long-term strategic alliance, despite the differences of opinion that occasionally arise on various issues, Israel especially at this time needs essential security assistance in the face of the Iranian nuclear threat and the purchase of advanced weapons from the United States so that it has a military option to act against Iran.

The American administration already sent a signal last week to Netanyahu, Hadi Amru, who is in charge of the Palestinian portfolio at the State Department, told reporters that the U.S. stuck to its promise to the Palestinians to reopen the American consulate in East Jerusalem that was closed under President Trump, the administration plans to use this issue as a whip to restrain the Netanyahu government.

President Biden is not interested in a confrontation with the Netanyahu government, but in the Democratic Party voices are growing to take a hard line against the new right-wing government in Israel.

These voices call for restraining the behavior of the two new ministers, Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotritz, and the unilateral steps that Israel is taking with regard to settlements, land expropriation, the attitude of the Israeli security forces to the Palestinians in the West Bank, and the attempts to change the status quo on the Temple Mount.

The Biden administration wants to preserve the Palestinian Authority and the two-state solution option, but there are voices in the Democratic Party calling for it to boycott Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich.

They say that the confrontation with the new government in Israel is only a matter of time.

Prime Minister elect Netanyahu will have to formulate his new policy towards the Palestinian Authority and his government’s course of action against terrorism in the West Bank without entering into a conflict with the Biden administration and without this leading to the dissolution of the new coalition he formed, will he succeed? Time will tell.

Yoni Ben Menachem Senior Middle East Analyst

About Yoni Ben Menachem

Yoni Ben Menachem is a Middle East senior analyst ,a journalist and
the former CEO of the Israel Broadcasting Authority(IBA). He has
decades of experience in written and video journalism. Ben
Menachem’s path in the media world began as a producer for
Japanese television in the Middle East. After that, he held many key
positions in the media The Israeli: CEO of the Israel Broadcasting
Authority, director of “Kol Israel” Radio, reporter on West Bank and
Gaza Strip affairs, political reporter and commentator, commentator
on Middle East affairs and editor-in-chief and presenter of the
program “Middle East Magazine”. 

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