Top US diplomat Antony Blinken has pressured Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to “take back control” of Jenin and Nablus in the occupied West Bank, leading to escalating violence. Palestinian territory, despite ongoing Israeli raids that killed at least 200 people last year.
US plans will see the PA crack down on emerging Palestinian armed groups in the West Bank, sources told the Axios news website.
Palestinians expressed reservations about the lack of focus on Israel’s plans to escalate and scale back its offensive in the West Bank, according to a report released Wednesday.
The report came out during Blinken’s trip to the Middle East earlier this week, where he first met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then with Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Both visits came amid heightened tensions between Israel and Palestine after Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians during a military raid on the Jenin refugee camp last Thursday. died due to his injuries.
The confrontation led to several hours of heavy fighting, in which an elderly woman also lost her life.
The next day, attackers shot dead seven people near a synagogue in an Israeli settlement in occupied East Jerusalem.
Citing Israeli and US sources, the Axios report said Brinken urged PA President to “accept and implement the security plan” drafted by US security coordinator Michael Fenzel. said.
Sources said the plan involves PA security forces regaining control of the northern West Bank, particularly Nablus and Jenin. Officials also said Palestinian special forces would be trained and deployed in the area to counter the resistance of militants.
The two cities have emerged as hubs for armed groups made up of young Palestinians frustrated by the occupation and the increasingly unpopular PA.
Many of these groups are affiliated with traditional Palestinian factions such as Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine, but do not operate under direct control.
The Israeli military says raids have long been regular in the West Bank and are part of a crackdown on these new armed groups.
More than 170 Palestinians, including at least 30 children, will be killed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2022, the worst year since 2006, according to the United Nations.
In January alone, at least 35 more people died, including five children.
Fenzel’s plan was presented to the Israeli government and the PA several weeks ago, and after reading the report, he added that although it had the support of the Israeli government, there had been “many reservations” from the Palestinian authorities.
Sources say such complaints stem from a lack of reference to the need to reduce Israeli military incursions into Palestinian territory and to build public support for such operations.
A Palestinian official also told US officials that there was “no justification to operate during the day when Israeli forces are conducting deadly raids on Palestinians at night,” read the report.
At a press conference after his visit, Blinken said, “We have also heard constructive ideas about practical steps that both sides can take to lower temperatures, promote greater cooperation and enhance people’s safety. “Therefore, we have asked senior members of the team to remain in the region and continue the discussion on how these steps might actually proceed.” I did,” he added.