Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s obsessive focus on Iran ignores a greater and much more immediate threat to the security of Israel: the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority and the West Bank’s potential transformation into an ungoverned space that could become a haven for terrorism. The current state of relations between the Israelis and the Palestinians is grim and threatens an end to the decades-long negotiations process started by the Oslo Accords.
Both sides have taken steps in recent weeks that could usher in a new era of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On March 5, two days after Netanyahu’s speech before the U.S. Congress on nuclear negotiations with Iran, the PLO’s Central Council held a formal meeting at which it voted to recommend to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that Palestinian National Security Forces (PNSF) suspend security cooperation with the Israeli military. This would be the first step in dismantling the Palestinian Authority, which has governed large parts of the West Bank for the past 20 years, and handing responsibility back to the Israeli military. Meanwhile, Netanyahu cast doubt this weekend on his tentative support for a two-state solution: His Likud party released a statement saying that the prime minister’s 2009 speech, in which he declared support for a Palestinian state, was “simply not relevant” anymore — an assertion quickly walked back by the prime minister’s office.
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