The Palestinian public, political analysts and Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset have unanimously attributed the recent escalation and the mounting tensions in the West Bank and the occupied East Jerusalem to the Israeli regime’s unprecedented moves to take over Al Haram Al Sharif in the holy city.
Tensions have been mounting for months as occupied East Jerusalem has turned into a battlefield for clashes between Israeli occupation forces and the defenders of Al Haram Al Sharif.
However, the recent violence in the West Bank which has led to a dramatic Israeli incursion in Nablus, can easily spiral out of control, Walid Al Mudalal, a Palestinian expert on Israeli Affairs, warned.
“The second intifada scenario is highly anticipated to repeat itself given the PNA’s inability to control the Palestinian street,” he said.
He predicts a second intifada would entirely depend on Israel’s actions. “If it continues to use disproportionate and brutal force and collectively punish the Palestinian people, then it is highly likely.”
Israeli curbs on Palestinian and Muslim access to their own holy site in Occupied Jerusalem has been described as a ‘declaration of war’ by Palestinian Knesset member Hanin Al Zoabi.
“Israeli measures in Al Haram Al Sharif are an attempt to chane the historical character of the holy site, despite the fact that Al Haram Al Sharif has not been occupied until now and was spared in Israel’s 1967 occupation of Jerusalem.”
Al Haram Al Sharif is the third holiest site for Muslims around the world and it is where the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is believed to have ascended to heaven from a rock. The Al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock are the essential features of the Muslim holy site. Jews seek to pray at the site which was built on the remains of an ancient Jewish temple. However, a status quo in place since recently had allowed Jews to visit but not pray at Al Haram Al Sharif. It was not until Jewish radical groups insisted to access the site that tensions starting escalating.
“There is no reason for Jews to be in Al Haram Al Sharif. It is a place of prayers for Muslims only,” Al Zoabi said.
“Jews no not have freedom of worship in Al Haram Al Sharif just as Muslims do not have freedom of worship in synagogues,” she said.
Al Mudalal predicts a splintering of Abbas’s Fatah party very soon. What will emerge from Fatah could become a key player in the Palestinian political scene.
In a much-anticipated speech to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that Palestinians are no longer obligated to uphold terms of previous accords with the Israeli regime. Abbas cited multiple Israeli breaches of the Oslo accords as justification for his decision.
Currently the Palestinian Authority holds security responsibility in the West Bank, and there no signs of Abbas abandoning what he called ‘sacred’ security cooperation with Israel.
“It is crystal clear Abbas will not end security cooperation with Israeli. This is a fact that Palestinians know for sure,” said Abdul Azim Samaan, a community leader in Nablus.
“The security cooperation is not only useful to Israel but it is also the backbone of Palestinian National Authority,” he said.
Al Mudalal said that ending security coordination with Israel essentially means the dimsantling of the PNA and its subsequent disintegration.
While tensions are boiling over, few believe the PNA will voluntarily dismantle.
Al Mudalal said that the PNA began slowly to loosen its iron-fist grip over the Palestinian public only to make political gains.
“The PNA seeks to pressure Israel to re-launch peace talks and to improve terms and conditions of the negotiations,” he said.
By Nasouh Nazzal
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