Israel intelligence source warns of West Bank collapse

Mahmoud AbbasMahmoud Abbas

A senior source inside Israel’s intelligence community has warned that the continuing building of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories could cause the rapid collapse of the Fatah government in the West Bank. Speaking anonymously to the BBC, the intelligence official cautioned that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, “is tired and fed up”, and that if he “continued to be humiliated” by Israel’s refusal to halt illegal settlement construction he might “step down and return home”. This would terminate the ongoing negotiations between Israel and Fatah, mediated by Washington, and could bring down the Fatah government in the West Bank, in a chaotic process that would ultimately “be a major setback for Israel”, said the official. Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and elsewhere, lack international recognition, and in recent years Israel has been pressured by its allies, including the United States, to stop residential expansion into the Palestinian Territories. But the building of settlements is strongly supported by factions of the Israeli right, which seek to establish a “greater Israel”, based on secular and religious Zionist doctrines. It is also supported by conservative Evangelicals in the US, who see the expansion of Israel as a key principle in their Christian theology. But it is clear that senior Israeli intelligence sources are skeptical of Israel’s hardline approach, and warn that it could lead to the rapid demise of the Fatah leadership in the West Bank. This would in turn strengthen hardline elements within the Palestinian population, including Hamas, the religious rival of Fatah, which governs the Gaza Strip. The official told the BBC that Israeli intelligence believes Hamas is “rebuild[ing] its infrastructure inside the West Bank” and may be able to launch “large-scale attacks” if a leadership gap emerges following Mahmoud Abbas’ possible resignation.

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