Is the US Putting Brakes on Israeli Annexation?

Two developments in the West Bank raise questions whether the Palestinian Authority is gearing up for a third intifada.

First, Palestinian intelligence offices in at least two West Bank cities have been ordered to hide sensitive documents ahead of possible anti-annexation violence. Israeli media reports say the last time the PA issued such an order was in 2000, before the outbreak of the Second Intifada.

Second, the PA has started cooperating with the Fatah-funded Tanzim militia to maintain order in Palestinian communities that are under Israeli security control. Ynet writes:

“The officials also said that this unusual cooperation between the Palestinian government and Tanzim could embolden the militant group’s members to point their weapons at Israeli security forces in case tensions escalate . . . .”

Times of Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to apply Israeli sovereignty to three main settlement blocs of Gush Etzyon, Maale Adumim and Ariel, but not immediately to the Jordan Valley or other settlement areas.

Netanyahu reportedly feels that there is greater domestic consensus support to apply sovereignty to those blocs, and that this would create less friction with Jordan.

A Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said he made a counter-proposal to the US peace plan and presented it to the Quartet of Mideast mediators, namely the US, UN, European Union and Russia.

Shtayyeh was scant on details, only saying the proposal calls for a de-militarized Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem based on the 1949 Green Line with possible minor land swaps.

Israel’s High Court of Justice struck down the controversial Settlements Regulation law. Passed in 2017, The law would have retroactively recognized more than 4,000 illegal housing units built on privately owned Palestinian land.

The ruling paves the way for Palestinian landowners to take legal action to evict the people living in the unauthorized homes. It also sends a tacit message to the International Criminal Court that Israel respects international law.

The United Arab Emirates’ national airline, Etihad, flew directly to Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport with another shipment of medical aid for the Palestinians. Last month, the PA refused to accept a similar delivery, insisting it wasn’t coordinated and that the PA didn’t want to help Arab countries normalize ties with Israel. Israel and the UAE do not have diplomatic ties.

PA officials said yesterday’s delivery wasn’t coordinated with Ramallah.

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