[here we go again] Palestinian Authority stops contacts with Tel Aviv after Nablus operation

Kifah Zboun

Asharq al-Awsat  /  February 24, 2023

The Palestinian Authority (PA) stopped all contact with Tel Aviv in response to the Israeli military operation in the West Bank city of Nablus, which killed 11 Palestinians.

Palestinian sources told Asharq al-Awsat that the Authority was dealt a treacherous blow two days after it withdrew the Security Council draft resolution condemning the Israeli settlements.

Under a US-sponsored agreement, Israel also reportedly agreed to temporarily suspend unilateral actions in the occupied West Bank, including army incursions into Palestinian territories.

The sources confirmed that the Palestinian leadership, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, decided to stop contacts and move immediately to the Security Council to request international protection and suspend the security coordination.

The Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Hussein al-Sheikh, announced that the Palestinian leadership resorted to the Council to request international protection for the Palestinian people “in light of the continuing crimes of the occupation.”

Later, the Palestinian UN ambassador, Riyad Mansour, said consultations have already begun with the head of the Security Council on protecting the Palestinian people.

The Palestinian move came in the wake of the bloody Israeli attack on Nablus, and the approval to construct 3,000 settlement units.

Haaretz said that Israel’s Civil Administration’s Higher Planning Council advanced on Wednesday plans to build 4,000 housing units in the settlement, the most significant number of units approved in the past two years.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry condemned the Israeli approval of building new settlement units, saying it was an “extension of the occupation’s crimes.”

It said that the policy of “racist colonialism of the occupation” is based on the gradual and silent annexation of the occupied West Bank.

Israeli officials did not immediately comment on the settlement construction, but military officials said that the understandings regarding the security situation matter are meaningless.

Asked whether this could undermine the understanding and further aggravate the situation ahead of Ramadan, an Israeli military official said the problem is already tense, as it were in 2022. 

He noted that Israel should be prepared for retaliatory attacks in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza.

He indicated that the army would continue its operations as required and needed, adding that the understandings are unimportant as long as Israeli security is threatened.

Later, Israeli sources acknowledged that the operation in Nablus marked a quick end to the understanding.

The Hebrew Channel 12 reported that the Israeli security establishment condemned the Nablus operation.

The Israeli army and police raised their alert level in preparation for a possible violent response to the operation and deployed reserve Border Police units to East Jerusalem.

A senior military official told reporters that the Israeli army expected a possible response to the military operation.

The Israeli military said late Wednesday that Palestinian shooters opened fire from a passing car at a checkpoint in Homesh in the northern West Bank.

Israeli military sources announced that a Palestinian woman was shot after she attempted to stab a security guard at the Ma’ale Adumim settlement in the West Bank. Her injuries were described as “moderate to serious.”

The Palestinian territories are experiencing unprecedented anger after the Israeli attack on Nablus.

The national forces announced a general strike in the occupied Palestinian territories in protest against the Israeli raid in Nablus.

Shops, schools, and banks remained closed after Palestinian political parties on Wednesday announced a general strike in the cities of Ramallah and Nablus. They called on Palestinians to protest near Israeli army checkpoints.

Meanwhile, Ynet Palestinian affairs analyst Avi Sakharov said that escalation is imminent, noting that an operation in broad daylight in Nablus may have been necessary to prevent an attack, but there is always a price for such operations.

Haaretz military analyst Amos Harel wondered how urgent and necessary this operation was, adding that it risks sparking revenge attacks and rockets from Gaza.

Harel warned it could now trigger revenge attacks from the West Bank and rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.