The Palestinian Political System Is Headed Toward Crisis

The Palestinian Political System Is Headed Toward Crisis
Palestinians burn tires and wave the national flag during a protest against Israeli military raids in the West Bank city of Jenin, Jan. 26, 2023 (AP photo by Fatima Shbair).

While international attention is focused on the war in Gaza, the West Bank continues to be engulfed in expanding violence. The political and security situation there has been worsening for several years, culminating in July in a major Israeli assault against Palestinian armed groups that were holed up in Jenin’s refugee camp. But Hamas’ Oct. 7 offensive and subsequent Israeli retaliation have reverberated deeply in the West Bank, deepening public anger at Israel, and exacerbating the pre-existing drivers of insecurity and political instability.

Over the past six months, 434 Palestinians, including at least 106 children, have been killed by Israel in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Thousands more have been detained. In the name of security, Israel has tightened movement restrictions, setting up dozens of new checkpoints and blocking access to villages. Israel has revoked 200,000 permits enabling West Bankers to work in Israel, increasing unemployment rates and costing the Palestinian economy an estimated $2.3 billion.

Meanwhile, the Israeli settler movement has used the Gaza conflict as political cover to accelerate and expand Israel’s annexation of Palestinian territory. According to the Israeli settlement watchdog, Peace Now, the past months have seen an unprecedented surge in settlement activities, including the construction of outposts, roads, fences, and roadblocks. This has been matched by a sharp increase in Palestinian evictions and settler violence against vulnerable communities. In response, the United States and Europe have imposed sanctions against a small number of extremist settlers.

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