Amid Peace Impasse, West Bank Tensions Rising
Political stalemate, attacks and clashes all risk bringing the territory to a boiling point
An apparent uptick in violence in the West Bank claimed additional victims Wednesday morning, when a Palestinian assailant was shot dead after lightly injuring a security guard in a stabbing attack at the entrance of the Jewish community of Karmei Tzur.
It comes one day after a Palestinian was killed and dozens more injured in clashes in Nablus with the Israeli military, which was conducting a manhunt for the killer of Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal who on Monday in the West Bank was stabbed to death.
Earlier Tuesday, the IDF killed Ahmad Nasser Jarrar, the suspected head of the Palestinian terrorist cell that murdered Rabbi Raziel Shevach in a drive-by shooting on January 9 near the Jewish outpost of Havat Gilad.
“At the moment it is a very dynamic situation and there may be plans [to enhance security], but for now we have not been made aware of anything out of the ordinary,” an IDF spokesperson told to The Media Line.
The unrest comes amid an impasse in the peace process fueled by U.S. President Donald Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas thereafter imposed a boycott on the American administration, effectively disqualifying Washington from its historical role as mediator of peace talks. Concurrently, Abbas warned of a full cut-off of ties with Israel.
According to Brig. Gen. (ret.) Shlomo Brom, head of the Program on Israeli-Palestinian Relations at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, the peace process has again devolved into negotiations about negotiations—but this time around, such an approach may be necessary.
“There needs to be an understanding about what the talks are going to deal with,” he stressed to The Media Line, “because another attempt to reach a comprehensive agreement will meet the same result [as in the past]—it will certainly fail.… So what both sides have to do is devise a process that will first stop the slide towards a one-state reality and then start moving in the direction of a two-state solution.”
Brom believes that this course has to be incremental and include interim stages, ones that might come about through unilateral measures. For example, Israel could, in his estimation, hand over to the Palestinians additional territory in Area C of the West Bank, a region designated by the 1993 Oslo Accords that remains under full Israeli military and civilian control and where all of the Jewish communities across the 1967 borders are located.
Such a move, Brom concluded, would not only build trust between the parties but also ensure the territorial viability of a future Palestinian state.
Others argue that Israel should be less forthcoming given Abbas’ intransigence, which, they claim, has incited violence in the West Bank. In fact, the Palestinian leader has repeatedly called for “days of rage” to protest President Trump’s Jerusalem declaration.
Irrespective of cause, the effects of the stalemated peace process are becoming all-too-familiar, with some comparing the prevailing conditions in the West Bank to those prior to the 2000 outbreak of the Second Intifada, the last major Palestinian terror war against Israel.