Israeli officials are concerned about the potential for unrest in the occupied West Bank, security correspondent Amos Harel wrote in Haaretz.
Noting a recent focus on the Gaza Strip, Harel explained that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “greatest security challenge in the near future may actually lie in the other Palestinian theatre, the West Bank”, adding that “his policies have made a significant contribution to the mess”.
The report notes a number of factors, including the fact that the Palestinian Authority (PA) “is gradually descending into a severe economic crisis” over Israel’s punitive withholding of tax revenues owed to Ramallah.
With the PA refusing to accept any tax funds if any of it is withheld, “some 160,000 Palestinian civil servants, including 65,000 members of the Palestinian security services, have gotten only half their salaries for six months in a row”, Haaretz noted.
For now, however, Harel stated, “despite the PA’s escalating threats, security coordination with Israel hasn’t suffered any serious damage”, since Ramallah fears “a loss of control over the territory that Hamas could exploit”, which has “deterred it from abandoning this coordination”.
Nevertheless, the security correspondent added, “signs of unrest in the West Bank have been accumulating and intensifying”, claiming that “in recent weeks, there has been a substantial rise in the number of attacks and attempted attacks”.
According to Harel, “in repeated situation assessments over the past few weeks, the defence establishment has said there’s a reasonable chance of an outbreak of worse violence in the West Bank, perhaps even before the election [next month]”.
“The success of the recent attacks encourages copycat attacks, just as happened in 2014 and 2015,” he added.