IDF and Palestinian security officials meet to tackle simmering violence

Senior IDF officers met their Palestinian counterparts yesterday evening as the two sides appeared to make a joint effort to quell violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

A series of deadly attacks have taken place during the past several days. Last Thursday, an Israeli mother and father in their 30s, Eitam and Na’ama Henkin, were gunned down and killed in front of four of their children as they drove in the West Bank. On Saturday, two separate stabbings in Jerusalem’s Old City saw Palestinian assailants kill two Israelis. Meanwhile, two Palestinian teenagers were killed in subsequent clashes with Israeli forces.

Haaretz says that last night’s meeting was the first since the violence of the past week and was an attempt to “jointly reduce tensions.” An unnamed senior IDF officer is quoted saying that recent events comprise “cycles of terror that come and go and not a general uprising.” Israel Radio news also reports last night’s meeting, which it says was attended by the IDF’s commander of the Judea and Samaria Division. Apparently, Israeli officials told their counterparts that they want quiet, not an escalation but that they are prepared to take appropriate action if the Palestinian Authority (PA) does not take action to restore calm.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday told a meeting of the PLO Executive Committee in Ramallah that he had instructed PA security forces to prevent a further escalation. He blamed Israel for the intensified violence and commented “We don’t want escalation, but we want to defend ourselves.” In what the Guardian calls “contradictory comments,” the PLO Executive Committee then released a statement which “salutes the masses … confronting the occupation.”

Israeli leaders have pointed the finger at Abbas for inciting unrest through incendiary remarks, especially over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Last week, Abbas told the United Nations General Assembly that the PA is no longer bound by the peace agreements it signed with Israel in the 1990s.

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