Rivals ponder moves after Gaza violence
RAMALLAH, West Bank — The aftershocks of the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem and bloodshed on the Gaza border are shaking up the region, including the relationship between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his former negotiating partners, Israel and the U.S.
Seething over a perceived U.S. betrayal on Jerusalem, Abbas is preparing to pursue a war crimes complaint against Israel at the International Criminal Court that would sharply escalate tensions with Israel.
Abbas isn’t yet ending security coordination, avoiding the move most likely to trigger a crisis with Israel and possibly the collapse of his West Bank-based autonomy government.
Abbas also recalled the Palestinian ambassador from Washington this week, cementing an earlier decision to halt contacts with the administration and casting growing doubt on Trump’s ambitions to broker an IsraeliPalestinian peace deal.
Meanwhile, his domestic Hamas rivals in Gaza have emerged without tangible achievements from weekly border protests in which more than 100 Palestinians were killed and hundreds wounded by Israeli fire since late March.
There’s no sign of a significant easing of the blockade, which was imposed by Israel and Egypt after the 2007 Hamas takeover of Gaza. Egypt offered only a vague promise to open its passenger crossing with Gaza, the territory’s main gate to the world, when possible.
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been riding a string of successes, pushing a series of embarrassing corruption investigations off the public agenda and lifting his approval ratings.
The U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the embassy move are both seen as achievements for Israel.
But Netanyahu’s fortunes on the international stage could be changing. On the day of the embassy move, Israeli forces killed 59 Palestinians and wounded hundreds in Gaza, drawing widespread international condemnation, accusations of using disproportionate force and calls for independent investigations.
Israel lost the gains it had made in repairing ties with Turkey, which expelled Israel’s envoy, prompting Israel to respond in kind.
Netanyahu is also taking a risk by aligning himself so closely to Trump, who is unpopular with other Western allies and the overwhelmingly liberal Jewish American community.
Palestinian protesters burned tires last week at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, east of Khan Younis.