The PA’s Governance Test in Jenin 

The political echelon has ordered the IDF to temporarily halt anti-terrorist activities in the Jenin area to allow the PA to activate its forces and regain security control. This decision confronts the PA chairman with a strategic choice that will impact the restoration of the PA's international standing and its position as a partner for a political settlement with Israel.


The PA is currently facing one of its most significant governance tests in the past two years since it lost control in northern Samaria. 

 In an effort to restore law and order, the PA has deployed an elite force of 600 security personnel in the city of Jenin. 

 However, they have refrained from entering the Jenin refugee camp, where approximately 150 armed terrorists who remained after the IDF operation are regrouping to continue their acts of terrorism in the region. 


PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas recently visited Jenin and its refugee camp to demonstrate his control over the situation and to regain lost international legitimacy due to his unwillingness to combat armed terrorist groups in northern Samaria. 


Senior officials in the PA claim that the restoration of law and order in the Jenin area will occur in two stages. 

 The first stage involves apprehending armed terrorists within the city of Jenin itself and disarming them. 

 The second stage entails entering the Jenin refugee camp, considered the largest terrorist stronghold in Judea and Samaria, to disarm the armed terrorists. 


Despite the IDF’s opposition, the political echelon has decided to prohibit the entry of IDF forces into Jenin to allow the PA an opportunity to regain control of the security situation. 

 Israel aims to demonstrate to the international community, especially the US, its commitment to assisting the PA and its leader in recovering and strengthening their security capabilities. 


Prime Minister Netanyahu has emphasized over the past two weeks that Israel’s interest lies in strengthening, rather than weakening, the PA so that it can effectively combat terrorism. 


On July 9th, the Defense Cabinet approved a series of measures to prevent the collapse of the PA, which will be implemented soon. 

 This decision grants the PA another chance to regain control over the Jenin area, with the backing of the IDF.  

Israel continues to view the PA, despite its failures, as the primary force responsible for countering Palestinian terrorist groups in northern Samaria. 


Sources within the Fatah movement suggest that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is interested in maintaining his forces in the Jenin area due to the expected influx of funds for the reconstruction of the Jenin refugee camp. 

 He seeks to maintain control over the funds, ensuring they pass through the PA’s coffers under his supervision. 


The United Arab Emirates has announced a donation of $15 million, while Algeria has pledged $30 million for the camp’s rehabilitation. UNRWA is also expected to contribute funds, and other countries may follow suit. 


However, the PA’s intention to enter the Jenin refugee camp and apprehend Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives still requires verification on the ground.


It is more likely that the IDF will be compelled to return and prevent the camp from becoming a sanctuary for terrorists once again. 


Last weekend, the military wing of Hamas released a video indicating that terrorist activities in the camp persist even after the IDF’s operation. 

 The video depicted terrorists preparing hundreds of small explosive devices intended for use against IDF forces. 


Resentment toward the PA and its security forces in the Jenin area is steadily increasing.  

The residents of the Jenin refugee camp have not forgotten how the PA security forces stood aside during the IDF’s major operation within the camp. 


Senior security officials in Israel argue that the IDF carried out the PA’s responsibilities, and it was PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas who should have been combating terrorism in northern Samaria. 

 Over the past two years, terrorism has grown in Area A, despite the presence of the PA’s special forces, who were trained to fight terrorism in Jordan under American supervision and guidance. 

 Abbas avoided taking action in order to preserve his position. 


The Palestinian propaganda apparatus continues to conduct an intensive campaign in the Arab media and on social networks, portraying the IDF’s operation in the Jenin refugee camp as a failure and an Israeli defeat.  

This narrative follows the perceived “victory” over Israel that began during the “Guardian of the Walls” operation in the Gaza Strip in May 2021. 


The question remains as to whether the IDF’s operation in the Jenin refugee camp truly represents a turning point for the PA, prompting them to actively combat terrorism in the Jenin area going forward.

Currently, Palestinian terrorist organizations are leveraging their “victory” over the IDF in the Jenin refugee camp to incite an armed intifada throughout Judea and Samaria.


This poses a significant security challenge for both the IDF and the PA, which is in the initial phase of its efforts to regain security control in the Jenin region. 


Saleh al-Arouri, the head of Hamas’ military wing in Judea and Samaria, claims that “the Palestinian resistance can expel the Israeli occupation from the West Bank.” 

 The military wing of Hamas continues to carry out attacks throughout Judea and Samaria, engaging in political subversion against the government of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in an attempt to overthrow him. 

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas faces two main options. The first option involves strengthening his position in the Palestinian street by tacitly supporting ongoing terrorist activities against Israel in northern Samaria and neglecting law enforcement in the Jenin area under various pretexts.  

The second option entails close cooperation with Israeli security forces to eradicate terrorism in the Jenin area, thereby enhancing his international standing as a governing body and political partner of Israel. 

 However, this approach risks further weakening Abbas’ position among Palestinians and portraying him as a collaborator with Israel. 


Furthermore, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas faces an additional security challenge. Iran does not intend to sit idly and allow the destruction of the terrorist infrastructure it has established in the Jenin area over the past two years through its support of Islamic Jihad. 

 Iran plans to provide significant weapons and funding to restore the damaged terrorist infrastructure following the IDF’s operation in the Jenin refugee camp. 


Israel will not have to wait long, as the armed terrorist groups in Jenin will likely attempt to renew attacks against IDF forces and settlers. 

 This will ultimately reveal the true intentions of the PA and its determination, if any, to regain control of the region and combat terrorism. 


Given the limited room for maneuver, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will have to make a strategic decision on this matter.  


In the meantime, he is planning a reconciliation meeting of all Palestinian factions in Cairo on the 30th of this month, with the main demand being the cessation of the PA’s security coordination with Israel.

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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