Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon spoke out against a “Disengagement-style” withdrawal from the West Bank, insisting that such a move would allow Hamas a direct avenue to overthrow Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
“We will not hand over our citizens’ security into the hands of any foreign entity,” he said in recent private conversations, according to the Walla website.
Ya’alon’s comments coincide with US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Jerusalem for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The United States recently suggested that Israel withdraw from the Jordan Valley and replace its military presence with high-tech solutions including UAVs and early warning stations. When Israel objected, Kerry reportedly proposed a joint Israeli-Palestinian border deployment.
A senior security official added to the defense minister’s remarks, according to Walla, saying that “it is only because of the IDF’s activities that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Salafi extremist groups been unable to raise their heads in the West Bank.”
The last month has seen a rise in violent activity occurring or originating in the West Bank, some of which has involved Palestinian Authority officials. In one incident, a Palestinian policeman fired at an IDF patrol in Qalqilya. Another has been implicated in sending the terrorist who blew up the Dan No. 240 bus in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam on December 22.
US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority restarted in July after a break of several years. The nine-month negotiation period agreed on by the two sides is set to end in April.