Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has warned that Israel’s policies in the West Bank could lead the Islamic State group to expand into “the heart of Israel,” the Middle East Monitor reported Thursday. The comments come as Abbas, fatigued by long-standing political paralysis with the Israeli government, called during a radio interview Wednesday on the United Nations Security Council to seek a resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
He said the “basic condition for achieving peace lies in the Palestinians being restored their lands on the 1967 borders" and affirmed his strong opposition to terrorism. Nearly 400,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank, excluding annexed East Jerusalem, in territory that is intended to be part of a future Palestinian state.
In recent months the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, has sought to exploit Palestinian anger, but has picked up little support in the Palestinian territories. In October, the extremist group released a series of eight videos praising knife attacks against Israelis, and called for further attacks across the region. Polls suggest that Palestinians maintain highly unfavorable views toward the group, however. Ninety-one percent of Palestinians reject ISIS ideology and 83 percent support war against the group, according to a poll conducted in September.
— The Jerusalem Post (@Jerusalem_Post) January 27, 2016
The region has been rocked by routine stabbings of Israelis over the last few months amid rising Palestinian anger over expanding Jewish settlements and what many Palestinians perceive as Israeli threats against the sacred al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
At the same time, the Palestinian Authority, headed by Abbas, has lost much of its influence among Palestinians in the West Bank, where months of protests have threatened a fragile stability. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Israeli officials to prevent the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, which cooperates with Israel over security, while preparing in case it does fall. The news was seen to indicate that youth in the West Bank have lost trust in the Palestinian Authority’s ability to negotiate a solution to the conflict.