Israel’s prime minister has commanded Israeli officials to prevent the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, and to prepare in case it falls, various media outlets reported Wednesday. The order was the latest sign that the governing authority in the West Bank has lost much of its influence among Palestinians, where months of protests have threatened a fragile stability.
“We must prevent the Palestinian Authority from collapsing if possible, but at the same time, we must prepare in case it happens,” Netanyahu told the security cabinet Tuesday, ordering they be ready for “a worst-case scenario.”
— Crisis Group (@CrisisGroup) January 5, 2016
The Palestinian Authority was established by the 1990s Oslo accords that were intended to lead to a long-term peace deal. Since then, Palestinians have grown increasingly frustrated with expanding Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the continued Israeli occupation. Israel has security coordination with the Palestinian Authority, and views its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, as crucial to maintaining stability in the Palestinian territory.
Abbas, who has grown increasingly frustrated with a continued stalled peace process, lashed out at speculation that his government could breakup Wednesday, insisting that the Palestinian Authority was “here to stay.”
“The Palestinian Authority is our achievement and we will not give it up,” Abbas said during a speech in Bethlehem, according to Middle East Eye. “We want a divorce [from Israeli settlements] and to live in a two state solution with East Jerusalem as our capital.”
Israeli officials said during the security cabinet meetings that an end to the Palestinian Authority could over-burden Israel, requiring that it take over civilian affairs in the West Bank. The region has seen intensified clashes in recent months, following protests that broke out in Jerusalem in October and have spilled across Palestinian communities.
Violence has claimed the lives of 139 Palestinians – which includes many who carried out or were in the process of carrying out attacks – and 22 Israelis. Many of the attackers have been young, possibly signifying that youth in the West Bank have lost trust in the Palestinian Authority's ability to negotiate a solution to the conflict.