An adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned Saturday there was a possibility of a third intifada if the Israeli government goes ahead with its plan to annex parts of the West Bank.
The Kan public broadcaster reported that Nabil Shaath told the Arabic-language arm of the France 24 network that Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas are in agreement that there should be a popular uprising if the controversial plan goes ahead.
“When things flare up and it becomes a fully-fledged intifada, we will see a combination of forces between Gaza and the West Bank,” Shaath said.
The Palestinian adviser also said that he expected the potential uprising to be funded by the Arab world, noting Saudi Arabia sent billions of dollars within the first few days of the Second Intifada, but without further elaborating.
The Second Intifada, which erupted in the early 2000s, included waves of suicide bombings and other terror attacks that killed more than 1,000 Israelis.
Israeli security officials last month started to hold discussions to prepare for various scenarios if the annexation plan goes ahead, including the possibility of a full-blown uprising.
Shaath’s statement came after rivals Fatah and Hamas pledged unity against Israel’s West Bank annexation plans and vowed to “topple” the Trump administration’s peace proposal, in a rare show of cooperation at a joint press conference Thursday.
The joint appearance was spurred by common opposition to US President Donald Trump’s controversial peace plan, which paves the way for Israel to annex all of its settlements as well as the strategic Jordan Valley, amounting to 30 percent of the West Bank.
The relationship between Fatah, which controls the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority headed by Abbas, and Islamist terror group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and avowedly seeks to destroy Israel, has been plagued by divisions for more than a decade.
Last month, the two rival Palestinian factions observed the 13th anniversary of their schism, which formally began when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in June 2007 in a near civil war.
The takeover dissolved the Hamas-Fatah unity government, and subsequent attempts to reconcile the two have borne little fruit.
In a surprising move, MK Ayman Odeh of Israel’s opposition Joint List party, also attended Thursday’s conference.
“I’m taking part in the conference in Ramallah to support Palestinian reconciliation moves. Reconciliation between the factions is a necessary step in combating annexation, ending the occupation and achieving a just peace,” Odeh said in a statement.
The ruling right-wing Likud party issued a statement condemning Odeh’s attendance and in a letter Friday to Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin, Yamina MK Bezalel Smotrich said the Joint List chief should be booted from the Knesset under 2016 legislation enabling lawmakers to expel a fellow MK for supporting armed struggle against Israel or racist incitement.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition government had set July 1 as the date it could begin implementing Trump’s annexation proposals.
But on Wednesday, Netanyahu’s office said he would continue to discuss the possible annexation of parts of the West Bank with the US administration.
The US plan, unveiled in January, calls for any annexations to come as part of a larger peace package, including negotiations on the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state across the roughly 70% of the West Bank that won’t be annexed by Israel, with a link to Gaza — a prospect that is untenable to Palestinians and many on the Israeli right.
The Trump plan also calls for talks with the Palestinians and buy-in from Gulf Arab states that would theoretically be tasked with providing massive funds for the nascent Palestinian state’s economy.
The US aside, the international community has voiced near-unanimous opposition against unilateral moves by Israel.
Aaron Boxerman and AFP contributed to this report.