Muted Palestinian response to peace plan paves way for lone wolf attacks

Despite incitement to insurrection by the PA, the response to Trump's Deal of the Century has been muted. But this makes lone wolf attacks more likely.

A Palestinian gunman holds a weapon during the funeral of Palestinian Yazan Abu Tabekh, who was killed during an Israeli raid, in Jenin in the Israeli-occupied West Bank February 6, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
A Palestinian gunman holds a weapon during the funeral of Palestinian Yazan Abu Tabekh, who was killed during an Israeli raid, in Jenin in the Israeli-occupied West Bank February 6, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
The latest upsurge in violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank is the direct result of US President Donald Trump’s plan for Mideast peace, the Palestinian Authority said Thursday.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas and several Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, had called for mass protests against the plan, which was announced last week, dubbing it a “conspiracy to liquidate the Palestinian cause.”
While Abbas and his Fatah faction have called for stepping up “popular resistance” activities in protest against the plan, Iranian-backed Hamas and PIJ have openly urged Palestinians to launch violent attacks against IDF soldiers and settlers.
The harsh criticism of the Trump plan by Abbas, Hamas and PIJ undoubtedly has contributed to the latest cycle of violence. They are telling their people the Trump plan is a “declaration of war,” an “American-Zionist aggression” and a “dangerous plot” against Palestinians.
It’s precisely this kind of rhetoric that prompts Palestinians to take to the streets to protest against the US and Israel, burning photos of Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as US and Israeli flags. But this is also the type of rhetoric that leads to “lone wolf” terrorist attacks by individuals against Israeli policemen, soldiers and settlers.
Abbas and his senior Ramallah-based officials were hoping the Trump plan would spark a massive wave of nonviolent demonstrations in the West Bank. That way they would be able to argue that the policies of the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government are threatening to plunge the region into violence and bloodshed.
The Palestinian street, nonetheless, has demonstrated in the past week that it’s not interested in a third intifada or major confrontation with Israel. The relatively muted response of the Palestinian population to calls for stepping up “popular resistance” protests has disappointed PA leaders in Ramallah.
Apparently, Abbas was hoping mass protests in the West Bank would boost his diplomatic offensive in the international arena to rally support for Palestinian rejection of the Trump plan. So far, it seems Abbas is unlikely to succeed in his effort to persuade tens of thousands of Palestinians to take to the streets in protest against the Trump plan.
What Abbas has succeeded in triggering, meanwhile, is another wave of lone wolf attacks that could deteriorate into something similar to the “Knife Intifada” that erupted in 2015 in response to the Israeli government’s decision to resume visits by Jews to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.
That wave of violence by individuals, also known as the “Stabbing Intifada,” erupted shortly after Abbas strongly condemned Jewish visits to the Temple Mount, stating: “Every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem is pure, every shahid [martyr] will reach paradise, and every injured person will be rewarded by God. We won’t allow [Jews] with their filthy feet to defile our al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Then, Abbas blamed the anti-Israel attacks on the Israeli government for allowing Jewish “extremists” to “storm” the Aqsa Mosque.
Now, Abbas is holding both Israel and the Trump administration fully responsible for the latest wave of Palestinian terrorist attacks. His PA officials are also using the violence of the past few days to incite Palestinians against Israel by accusing the Netanyahu government and the IDF of “provocations and escalation of tensions.”
Some Palestinians warned on Thursday that disgruntled Fatah officials opposed to Abbas’s policies, as well as Hamas and PIJ, were making a big effort to instigate a new wave of violence and anarchy in the West Bank.
The Fatah dissidents, they said, are unhappy with Abbas’s “lenient” response to the Trump plan and failure to fulfill his recurring promises to halt security coordination with Israel or renounce the Oslo Accords.
Hamas and PIJ, on the other hand, are hoping a mass wave of anti-Israel terrorism would result in severe Israeli security measures that would ultimately undermine Abbas’s regime, bring about the collapse of the PA and destroy any chance of a future peace process between the Palestinians and Israel.
Backed by their patrons in Iran, Hamas and PIJ are seeking to prove to the Palestinian public that the “armed struggle,” rather than any peace process or plan, is the only way to achieve Palestinian aspirations and rights.