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Israeli Army chief warns of more attacks in West Bank

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot has warned Israeli Cabinet ministers there is a 60-80 per cent chance of increased terrorist attacks in the West Bank.

A report by Hadashot’s Dana Weiss on Thursday evening said that during Sunday’s Security Cabinet meeting, Eisenkot warned that increased attacks in the West Bank would require the deployment of more soldiers than an escalation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip.

The report said that the increased probability of violence in the West Bank was due to several factors: the diplomatic row between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Trump administration; PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ loss of support from many Arab states; increasing pressure on Abbas to reach a reconciliation agreement with Hamas to prevent an independent Israeli-Hamas long-term ceasefire; Abbas’ declining health and succession concerns; and mounting frustration among the Palestinian public that PA forces are helping Israel combat terrorism but are getting nothing in return.

Eisenkot suggested that to reduce tension the Israeli Government could work to moderate US pressure on the PA and implement policies to improve the economic situation in the West Bank.

Israel is concerned that President Abbas will use speeches at the PLO Executive Committee, and at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) next week, to fuel the growing unrest in the West Bank. In an interview with Ben Caspit in Maariv, PLO General-Secretary Saeb Erekat said: “I propose that you listen carefully to the speech that Abu Mazen is going to give on the 27th [September] to the PLO Executive Committee. It will make interesting headlines. What is left to Abu Mazen [Abbas], at the age of 84, is his legacy and his honour. This man, like me, was already among the dead.”

Eisenkot reportedly cautioned that a “combative” Abbas speech at the UNGA could fuel lone-wolf Palestinian terrorism.