ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 141

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US official credits PA for relative calm in West Bank amid Israel-Hamas war in Gaza

Palestinian security forces continue to fight terror, ensure stability beyond Green Line under strained conditions exacerbated by rising settler violence, Biden official tells ToI

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist terror group Hamas, in Ramallah in the West Bank, November 5, 2023. (Jonathan Ernst/Pool photo via AP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist terror group Hamas, in Ramallah in the West Bank, November 5, 2023. (Jonathan Ernst/Pool photo via AP)

WASHINGTON — The United States credits the Palestinian Authority for the relative calm in the West Bank amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, a Biden administration official told The Times of Israel on Wednesday.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, pointed to efforts by the PA’s security forces to combat terror and maintain stability in the West Bank, despite difficult conditions exacerbated by rising settler violence.

The praise of Ramallah from Washington comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has continued to reject the prospect of the PA returning to govern the Gaza Strip if Hamas is removed from power there.

War broke out after thousands of Hamas terrorists broke through the Gaza Strip barrier and rampaged murderously through nearby communities and army posts. They killed over 1,200 people, mostly civilians, among horrific acts of brutality, and abducted some 240. Israel swiftly declared its intention of toppling the Hamas regime in Gaza and securing the release of the hostages.

Netanyahu said again this week that Israel will not allow an entity that provides stipends to terror convicts, incites against the Jewish state and fails to expressly condemn Hamas’s murderous October 7 onslaught to control the coastal enclave.

For his part, US President Joe Biden has called for a “revitalized” PA to eventually govern in both Gaza and West Bank, indicating that reform in Ramallah will likely be needed before it returns to the Strip.

In recent meetings with Likud lawmakers aimed at ensuring their continued support, Netanyahu has reportedly said he must continue leading the party because “I am the only one who will prevent a Palestinian state in Gaza and [the West Bank] after the war.”

Illustrative: Palestinian Authority security officers deploy near the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, on July 15, 2022. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

A second US official stressed the security situation beyond the Green Line continues to be fragile, adding the issue would be on the agenda when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Israel and the West Bank later this week.

The top US diplomat’s meetings will focus primarily on the Israel-Hamas war. The US is intensifying its pressure on Israel to ensure that civilians are protected as much as possible as the IDF prepares to expand its military operation in southern Gaza upon the conclusion of the ongoing truce.

Part of the US effort to prevent the conflict from spreading has included pressuring Israel to rein in violent settlers in the West Bank, who according to rights groups have carried out recent attacks that have led to the displacement of nearly 1,000 Palestinians.

Biden announced earlier this month that the US is considering issuing visa bans against settlers.

The second US official said the settler attacks have further harmed the PA’s legitimacy, exposing it to additional criticism for being unable to protect Palestinians, and that Blinken will discuss the matter during meetings with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders later this week.

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