Mahmoud Abbas’ Performance in Jenin 

The recent visit of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to Jenin served as a significant spectacle to address domestic concerns and bolster international support. However, there are doubts regarding his commitment to combating the terrorism perpetrated by armed groups. Iran has shown no intention of relinquishing its outposts in the Jenin area, challenging the authority of the Palestinian Authority (PA). As a result, Israel will likely continue its military operations in the region to counter the threat of terrorism.



On July 12th, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, made his first visit to Jenin since 2012, accompanied by a substantial security detail comprised of hundreds of PA security personnel. 


His arrival in Jenin was facilitated by a Jordanian helicopter that transported him from Ramallah. The helicopter flight and the subsequent visit were coordinated with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), thereby contradicting Abbas’ claim that the PA had severed contact and coordination with Israel. 


The IDF’s recent military operation in the Jenin refugee camp, coupled with the expulsion of three senior members of the Fatah movement, served as the primary motivation behind Abbas’ unexpected visit. 

 His aim was to deflect attention from the PA’s failure to maintain security control in northern Samaria over the past two years. 

 Through this visit, Abbas sought to convey a message to Israel, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the international community, asserting his authority in the region and discouraging premature conclusions about his tenure. 


Despite Abbas’ brief visit to Jenin, the PA’s security forces remain unable to enter the Jenin refugee camp, which is under complete control of armed terrorist groups, primarily the “Jenin Battalion” of the Islamic Jihad. 


Abbas attempted to appease the disgruntled residents of Jenin and win back their support.  

In his speech, he referred to Jenin as an “icon of the Palestinian struggle.” Notably absent from his visit were leaders from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The majority of the audience in the Jenin refugee camp comprised PA security personnel and officials. 


During his speech, Abbas sent a veiled warning to the Hamas movement, which poses a threat to his rule, stating, “We will take decisive action against those who seek to undermine Palestinian unity and security.” 

The residents of Jenin accuse the PA and its leader of neglecting the city and its refugee camp, failing to protect them from IDF operations.  

This neglect has become increasingly evident over the past two years, especially during the recent IDF operation in the Jenin refugee camp. 


According to local sources, Abbas’ visit was motivated by the opportunity to capitalize on the reorganization of the PA’s security forces in Jenin and seize control of the $45 million in aid funds donated by the United Arab Emirates and Algeria for the reconstruction of the Jenin refugee camp. 


In his speech, Abbas promised to establish an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, effectively sending a message to Israel. 

 However, cries of support for the armed terrorist group Islamic Jihad’s “Jenin Battalion” were heard during his address. 


Although the PA Chairman sought to demonstrate Fatah’s control over the Jenin area, it is clear that his visit will not alter the harsh reality on the ground. 

 The armed terrorist groups of Islamic Jihad and Hamas maintain control over the Jenin refugee camp, and Abbas is unlikely to order the PA security forces to confront and disarm them. 


Israeli security officials affirm that coordination with the PA will continue, and Abbas’ visit represents his initial attempt to recover from the security failures of the past two years, which resulted in the PA losing control in northern Samaria.  

The question remains whether he will sustain the momentum and take decisive action against terrorism. 


Apart from Abbas’ questionable commitment to fighting terrorism, the Israeli security establishment believes that Iran is far more resolute and will not permit the PA to regain control of Jenin, jeopardizing Iran’s own achievements. 


According to sources within Islamic Jihad, Iran plans to infuse substantial funds and weapons into the Jenin area to fortify its existing outposts and establish infrastructure for manufacturing and launching rockets towards Israeli cities. 


The PA’s struggle extends beyond armed terrorist groups; it also encompasses Iran’s efforts, facilitated through Hamas and Islamic Jihad, to undermine Mahmoud Abbas’ rule in Judea and Samaria. 

 The security challenge confronting the PA Chairman is formidable, and there are doubts as to whether he possesses the will and capability to address it. 

 Consequently, it is highly probable that Israel’s political leadership will direct the IDF to intensify its operations in the Jenin area to prevent Iran from exerting control over the region. 


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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