US pushes Palestinians to adopt 'security plan' with West Bank crackdown
The US is pressuring Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas to accept a new security plan for the West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus, Axios reported, after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the leader in Ramallah this week.
The plan was drafted by US Lieutenant General Michael Fenzel and involves PA forces being deployed around Jenin and Nablus in order to suppress fighters from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Lions’ Den, and other armed groups who have led attacks on Israeli forces in the occupied territories.
Palestinian Authority forces would receive training before their deployment.
While the plan has the support of Israel and the US, the PA has not accepted the offer and has expressed "many reservations", Axios said. Such an agreement would be highly controversial for Palestinians.
Israel has launched near-daily deadly raids in the West Bank since March 2022, targeting Jenin and Nablus in particular and killing over 220 Palestinians.
The plan puts the onus for security fully on the Palestinians. It does not impose any conditions on Israel and does not require it to end its raids.
Blinken’s visit to Ramallah came shortly after nine Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in Jenin. The PA suspended security cooperation with Israel in response to the massacre but is now under pressure to resume it.
Seven Israelis were killed in a shooting outside a synagogue in a settlement in occupied East Jerusalem by a Palestinian man shortly afterward.
The coming to power of a far-right government in Israel last November has intensified Israeli violence against Palestinians. A total of 36 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank by Israel in January this year alone.
The Palestinian Authority has little control over Jenin, in particular, amid ongoing Israeli raids and the rise of independent armed groups in the area. A Palestinian official told The Times of Israel that recruitment for any proposed security force would be difficult.
The PA has lost popular support in recent years amid continued corruption, an economic downturn, and a total freeze in peace negotiations amid Israel's continued expansion of illegal settlements and its refusal to allow the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.