February 3, 2023 | Flash Brief

Abbas Blames Israel for Rise in Terrorism

February 3, 2023 | Flash Brief

Abbas Blames Israel for Rise in Terrorism

Latest Developments 

During a meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Ramallah on Tuesday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Israel for an escalation in violence between Palestinians and Israelis in recent months. Abbas told Blinken during a press conference on Tuesday that “unilateral Israeli actions” violate signed agreements and international law and that Israel’s presence in the West Bank is the chief impediment to peace.

The meeting came just days after a Palestinian terrorist killed seven Israelis outside of a synagogue in east Jerusalem. According to Axios, Blinken privately pressured Abbas to adopt a security plan drafted by American Lt. Gen. Michael Fenzel that outlines steps for the Palestinian Authority (PA) to re-establish security in the West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus.

Expert Analysis

“The only constants across the tenures of three successive Israeli prime ministers are a rise in terror activity in the West Bank and either an unwillingness or an inability by the Palestinian Authority to crack down on terrorism. The violence we’re seeing today grew under a centrist Israeli government that counted an Arab party as a member, not in response to any domestic policy by the new Israeli government.” Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“Secretary of State Antony Blinken deserves credit for pushing PA President Mahmoud Abbas to adopt the Fenzel plan. The escalating tensions in the West Bank may be the result of Israeli raids. But those raids would not be necessary if the PA would regain control of Jenin and Nablus, where terrorist operatives currently roam freely.”— Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

Terrorist Attacks Continue

Friday’s attack in Jerusalem’s Neve Yaakov neighborhood was the bloodiest since 2008, when a Palestinian terrorist murdered eight yeshiva students. On Saturday, a 13-year-old Palestinian shot and wounded two Israeli men near Jerusalem’s Old City before he was hit by their return fire and taken into custody. Later that day, a Palestinian terrorist opened fire at a restaurant near Jericho but fled the scene without causing any injuries when his rifle jammed after one shot.

Attacks by terrorists against Israeli civilians have been rising steadily since the summer of 2021. Some Palestinian officials have asserted that the recent spike in terrorist attacks is the result of new Israeli policies that the Netanyahu government has implemented since taking office in late December. This conflicts with available data showing 29 Israelis were killed in Israel and the West Bank in 2022, before Netanyahu took office.

PA’s Weakness is Responsible for Terrorism

Following a series of attacks in March 2022, the government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett launched Operation Break the Wave, which entailed near-nightly counterterrorism operations by Israeli security forces in the West Bank, especially in the lawless areas of Jenin and Nablus. The PA’s endemic corruption and lack of legitimacy are growing problems. Palestinian leaders have not been willing to deploy the PA security forces to maintain order, so Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and more recently a nascent group known as the Lions’ Den, dominate many lawless areas.

Related Analysis

Israel Ramps Up Security, Warns Against Vigilantism After Jerusalem Attacks,” FDD Flash Brief

Mapping Terrorism in the West Bank,” by Joe Truzman

Analysis: West Bank Violence Trending Upward,” by Joe Truzman


Israel Palestinian Politics