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Israeli military concerned about fresh unrest in West Bank over coronavirus effects

Palestinian security is integral to Israel, security officials urge [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 September, 2020

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Guaranteeing Israel's safety means having Palestinian stability, security officials have said.
High-ranking Israeli security officials have warned of the risk of more clashes in the occupied West Bank, due to the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the Palestinian economy, amid mounting protests.

The recent growth in the Palestinian economy has brought relative stability to the occupied West Bank, despite several sensitive issues arising, Israeli officials have said. 

The security officials told Israeli news outlet Haaretz that Gulf-Israel normalisation, the Great Return March protests in the besieged Gaza Strip, Donald Trump's decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, have caused less outrage in the occupied territories than was expected. This, they claimed, was due to stable economic situation in the West Bank.

However, the recent coronavirus pandemic has hit the Palestinian economy hard.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics predicted that the Palestinian Authority's this year would be $16.1 billion. The figure has now fallen by 13.5 percent to $13.6 billion.

Unemployment has increased substantially with around half a million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza losing their job or entering debt due to the coronavirus crisis.

A security official said the financial situation in the occupied Palestinian territories is unstable.

"The position of the security establishment was unequivocal: that we must, along with all the processes in the region, give the Palestinians a light at the end of the tunnel – something for them to cling to," an anonymous official told Haaretz.

Palestinian political stability is high up on the Israeli security agenda.

In closed-door meeting, security officials told Israeli politicians that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is an "ideal" counterpart as he has decided to avoid clashes with Israel.

They urged the government to reach an understanding with the Palestinian president.

Some in the Israeli military establishment are believed to be bracing for the collapse of the PA, which would likely see widespread riots in the Palestinian territories.

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