Palestinian leader to make rare visit to Jenin
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas traveled to Jenin today for the first time in over a decade. Though the PA — formed after the Oslo Accords — is technically the chief security and administrative authority in the northern West Bank city, Abbas’ men have lost control of parts of the West Bank, including Jenin, which is now run by semi-autonomous rival military groups.
Why go now? Abbas’ trip comes a week after Israel conducted one of its most intense military raids in the West Bank in two decades, aimed at rooting out a new cohort of militants and their vast cache of weapons and military infrastructure.
Given that Israel and the PA are close security partners — meaning that Abbas’ men often clamp down on potential terror threats emanating from PA-governed cities — the scope of the operation in Jenin, where Israel conducted rare air raids, was an embarrassing sign of Abbas’ dwindling power and unpopularity.
Polling of the Palestinian electorate suggests that the PA is broadly seen as corrupt, too deferential to Israel, and failing to deliver for the Palestinian people. Indeed, 80% of those polled want Abbas to resign. (The 87-year-old Abbas has also refused to hold elections in the West Bank for over 15 years.)
Crucially, this rare visit comes amid growing reports that Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and is deemed a terror group by the US, is vying to take over parts of the West Bank, including Jenin. The last time the two Palestinian groups fought it out for control of Gaza in 2007, things got very, very messy …