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bilin soldier protester scuffle 248 88 a.(Photo by: AP [file])
IDF looks to cut off PA protest funding
Defense officials warn Fayyad public uprising could turn violent.
The army has begun looking into ways to crack down on the Palestinian Authority’s financial support of the so-called nonviolent public uprising it is supporting in the West Bank, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Leading efforts against the PA’s financial mechanism is the IDF’s Central Command, in conjunction with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).

IDF sources said recently that PA officials, including Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, were directing and overseeing the weekly protests that the IDF faced in the West Bank, including in Ni’lin, Bil’in and near the Shavei Shomron settlement.

According to assessments within the Central Command, senior PA officials, and specifically Fayyad, are encouraging Palestinian youth to participate in the anti-Israel demonstrations held every Friday.

Defense officials recently met with Fayyad and warned him that he was on a slippery slope.

“We told him that the public uprising that they currently say is nonviolent could quickly turn violent and undermine efforts both sides are making to create stability in the West Bank,” a senior IDF officer told the Post last week.

Fayyad, the officer said, plans to continue cooperating on a professional level with Israel on economic and security issues, but at the same time has made a strategic decision to retain the right to protest against Israel.

Following Israel’s protests, Fayyad sent a number of top PA officials to mosques and community centers throughout West Bank cities and villages, to send a calming message and work to prevent an escalation in violence.

During the second intifada in the early 2000s, the IDF and the Shin Bet had significant success in curbing the flow of funds from Syria, Iran and Hizbullah to terrorist groups in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

According to the senior officer, the PA is currently using “sophisticated methods” to bring in money to finance the anti-Israel activities. The officer would not divulge details about the different methods.

“They are sophisticated and take into consideration legal ramifications,” the officer said, giving as an example the PA’s support of law firms that were used to flood the High Court of Justice with petitions against the route of the West Bank security barrier.

While the overall situation in the West Bank is relatively quiet, the IDF is concerned that the demonstrations against the barrier may turn more violent, leading to casualties and then to a more violent uprising. In addition, the recent spate of what appear to be settler attacks against Palestinian cars and mosques could also trigger a violent Palestinian retaliation.
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