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September 20, 2018 3:26 pm

IDF Chief of Staff Warns Cabinet of ’60-80 Percent’ Chance of Renewed Violence in the West Bank

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot attend a security cabinet meeting at IDF Headquarters, February 10, 2018. Photo: Ariel Hermony/Ministry of Defense

The IDF chief of staff has warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet that the chances of a major round of violence in the West Bank in the coming weeks are extremely high.

According to Israel’s Channel Two, Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot told the cabinet at its weekly meeting that there is a 60-80 percent of renewed conflict in the West Bank, which would require much greater efforts to suppress than the current violence on the Gaza border.

The chief of staff reportedly based his assessment on several factors. First, the current tension between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and President Donald Trump. Abbas has all but completely cut off relations with the Trump administration since it recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the US embassy there. Abbas has suffered further diplomatic defeats since then, with the US cutting aid to the PA and the Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA.

In addition, Abbas’ poor health and the view that is collaborating with Israel has led to anxieties about his policies and possible successor, destabilizing the situation in the West Bank.

Another factor is Abbas’ upcoming speech to the UN General Assembly next week. Like previous such speeches, it is expected to be extremely aggressive, and could incite violence across the West Bank, especially lone-wolf attacks.

Eizenkot also expressed concern that a renewal of violence in the West Bank would distract Israel from the northern front, which he considers the most dangerous, and spread Israeli forces too thin.

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