Dangerous time for Israel
by Jewish extremists to carry out vigilante attacks against Palestinian civilians are also on the rise, which will lead to further cycles of terror. Meanwhile, the leaders of both sides seem incapable of engaging in anything more than mutual recriminations while coming under increasing pressure at home.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being criticised both by the official opposition for having failed to deliver security and also by members of his own government for “restraining” the security forces. This week, three Likud ministers joined settlement council heads protesting outside the prime minister’s residence. For now, MrNetanyahu is resisting calls to launch a wider operation in the West Bank or expand settlements in retribution for the murder of Israeli citizens.
Mr Abbas, likewise, seems reluctant to push matters too far. Last week at the UN he threatened to end security coordination with Israel. For now, his secu- rity chiefs want to remain in control, protecting their vested interests and continuing the security co-ordination.
But the lack of any prospect for a renewal of the diplomatic process and the preoccupation of foreign governments with events in Syria and Afghanistan mean that any period of relative calm could be fleeting.
Mr Abbas will continue to face criticism of “collaboration” with Israel while the Netanyahu government must deal with a growing number of “price tag” attacks by Jewish extremists.
In such a febrile atmosphere, a more widespread wave of bloodshed could break out following any sort of event — a provocation by either side on Temple Mount; a traffic accident of the sort which sparked off the First Intifada in 1987; even a riot at a football match between Beitar Jerusalem and an IsraeliArab team.
Events on the ground could happen very fast and spiral out of control. That is the real threat — whatever anyone chooses to call it.