Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians warned the Israel Defense Forces’ chief of staff and the defense minister of a potential wave of violence if the government goes through with its plans to unilaterally annex portions of the West Bank, Army Radio reported Tuesday.
According to the station, Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun — formally known as the coordinator of government activities in the territories — told army chief Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi and Defense Minister Benny Gantz that annexation “was likely to lead to a wave of terror attacks and a breaking of security cooperation [with the Palestinian Authority].”
The IDF and Defense Ministry refused to comment on the report, saying they would not discuss the contents of conversation held behind closed doors.
Last week, PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced that his security forces were halting coordination with Israel — a threat he has made several times in the past, though he appeared to actually be going through with it to a certain extent.
While Israeli security officials have confirmed the PA has ended security cooperation, Channel 13 reported that Ramallah had sent messages to Israel saying it would not allow terror attacks against Israelis or a mass popular uprising.
Abu Rukun’s reported comments were the latest in a series of warnings by defense officials regarding a potential outbreak of Palestinian violence in response to annexation of Israeli settlements and the Jordan Valley, as the government has proposed to do.
Though not widely discussed publicly, Israel’s cooperation with Palestinian security forces has been credited with thwarting many major terror attacks and being a significant factor in the relative calm in the West Bank in recent years.
On Monday, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said the PA would prevent widespread chaos and public disorder in the West Bank despite the severance of ties. Israel’s security establishment, however, fears that the Hamas terror group will exploit the escalating tensions to step up its activities in the West Bank.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said he has set a July date for when Israel will extend its sovereignty over areas of the West Bank, and informed his Likud lawmakers he has no intention of changing it.
The move would be coordinated with the US, in accordance with the Middle East plan US President Donald Trump unveiled in January, which endorsed extending Israeli sovereignty over roughly 30 percent of the West Bank.
Netanyahu’s vow to go through with annexation has led to condemnations from a growing list on countries, including Arab states such as Jordan and European nations like France and Germany.
In recent days even Trump administration officials have appeared to seek to dampen expectations that Washington will quickly green-light the move without any progress in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
The State Department’s chief spokesperson said earlier this month that any action should be part of discussions between Israel and the Palestinians on the Trump administration’s peace plan.