Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is behind a security operation in the West Bank that is trying to prevent a serious terrorist attack against Israel and to prevent tensions from flaring up. Early Monday morning PA security forces arrested dozens of Hamas operatives who planned to carry out attacks in the coming week. An Israeli security source told The Jerusalem Post's Hebrew sister publication Maariv-Hashavua that great pressure is being exerted on Abbas's forces to calm the street after a very long period in which the same street was incited against Israel.
The source emphasized that the incitement against Israel still exists, but along side it, one can clearly see the efforts being made to frustrate terror attacks. The source did not give a reason for the PA's anti-terror efforts but said the Israeli election set to take place in nine days cannot be ignored.
On the one hand, Abbas publicly declares that the election does not interest him, but on the other hand the assessment in the Israeli security apparatus is that the Palestinian leadership is hoping for a political change in Israel and that it will once again receive the tax revenue that Israel collects for the PA.
Referring to Israel's freezing of the Palestinian tax revenue, the source said if it were not an election period such a lengthy freeze would lead to active hostilities.
The IDF for its part is continuing to prepare for the day after the election and it has given itself until the end of March to be fully prepared for any engagements in the West Bank. Following its major drill in the West Bank last month, a senior IDF source said that most of the drilled exercises were completed successfully and the others were being dealt with.
No interest in chaos
With one eye on Israel's election and the other eye on the Palestinian street, the PA is easing tensions in the West Bank. While there is no security source who will admit to it, the PA is hoping that the March 17 election will bring political change that will lead to the restarting of the peace process and an improvement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The security source was careful not to make any political statements but emphasized that the West Bank had become, "the most developed region in the Arab world."
"The West Bank does not fall behind other areas for its level of education. Its connectivity to the world via the internet and smartphones is among the highest in the Arab world. Barring the issue of employment, the West Bank has become a paradise for the Palestinians," the source said.
The source said that the "quiet" in the West Bank is because the Palestinians there are not interested in chaos. On the other hand, the source said there is no chance the quiet security situation will continue for much longer and that in the next two years the Israeli security forces will be busy in the territory.