The security cabinet is slated to convene a meeting on Sunday to deliberate and potentially endorse a series of measures aimed at bolstering the Palestinian Authority (PA). Concerns about the PA’s impending collapse have reignited, prompting the discussion of economic, travel, and security initiatives designed to stabilize the situation. These proposed steps, supported by the Israeli security establishment, encompass various aspects, such as the establishment of a new industrial zone near Hebron and facilitating economic measures, including adjustments to the PA’s debt payments to Israel.
Additionally, travel arrangements are set to be addressed, including expanding operating hours at the Allenby crossing into Jordan and issuing biometric passports. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and other security officials will provide briefings on security matters to lawmakers during the meeting. Security officials have reportedly alerted the political leadership about the potential collapse of the PA and emphasized the need for swift action to address the situation.
The measures under discussion also aim to counteract Iran’s influence in the West Bank, as Tehran supports Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, two prominent terror groups. It should be noted that the PA and Hamas have a strained relationship, and PA security forces actively work against terrorist elements in the West Bank. Although the PA and Israel cooperate on security matters, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recently declared an end to their cooperation, a threat he has made on multiple occasions in the past.
Should the PA collapse, it is anticipated that the West Bank would plunge into chaos, leaving a power vacuum that could be exploited by terror groups, much like the situation in Gaza, where Hamas forcibly removed the PA in 2007. The PA has been progressively losing control over the northern West Bank, empowering terrorist organizations and necessitating regular Israeli operations in the region following a series of deadly attacks.
The intended discussion by the cabinet was widely reported by all three major Israeli TV networks, indicating a coordinated leak from the government. The leaking of plans to bolster the PA has occurred in recent months amid mounting pressure from the United States to enhance cooperation between Jerusalem and Ramallah. While some steps were promised earlier, their implementation has yet to be completed.
The timing of this cabinet discussion follows the recent Israeli Defense Forces’ counter-terror operation in the city of Jenin in the northern West Bank. Ongoing violence in the region and Abbas’s response, including the suspension of security coordination with Israel and the severing of other ties, contribute to the urgency of the situation.
In recent days, the violence has persisted, with armed Palestinians involved in a shooting attack killed by Israeli forces in Nablus, and a Palestinian man shot dead near Umm Safa. A Palestinian gunman also fatally attacked an Israeli soldier near the settlement of Kedumim, with Hamas claiming responsibility for the incident. These incidents add to the tension that has gripped the West Bank for the past 18 months, characterized by frequent Israeli military raids and a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks.
Since the beginning of this year, Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank have claimed the lives of 25 individuals, while 151 West Bank Palestinians have died during the same period, primarily during clashes with security forces or while carrying out attacks. Some casualties include uninvolved civilians, and the circumstances surrounding certain deaths remain unclear.
The upcoming cabinet discussion signifies a concerted effort by the Israeli government to address the precarious state of the Palestinian Authority and mitigate the potential consequences of its collapse.