RAMALLAH: Israeli media reported on March 21 that King Abdullah II of Jordan will visit Ramallah next week and meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to prevent a possible escalation of security in the West Bank and Jerusalem during the Ramadan.
This comes amid Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian concerns over possible violence in the Palestinian Territories that will erupt in the coming weeks.
The PA said, “If Israel wants to avoid friction, it must prevent settler incursions into Al-Aqsa Mosque throughout Ramadan, which coincides with the Jewish holiday of Passover,” adding that Palestinian leaders will say to Abdallah: “Let the Jews pray the places intended for them and leave the Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan to perform the Muslim prayer”.
A Palestinian source told Arab News: “Israel is taking advantage of the world’s concern over the Russian-Ukrainian war to intensify its measures against the Palestinians by doubling down on its settlement activity, imposing new facts on the ground and its intention to lead settler incursions. in the Temple Mount during the month of Ramadan.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met with the king in Amman a month ago and briefed him on Israeli concerns about escalating tension in Jerusalem. Israeli Minister of Internal Security Amr Bar-Lev also requested a meeting with Abbas before Ramadan to discuss the issue.
Israel is working with Palestinian and regional parties to avoid a possible escalation during Ramadan.
Palestinian sources said that Israeli intelligence offered a deal to Palestinian leaders to stop Israel Defense Forces incursions into Palestinian cities during Ramadan in exchange for not carrying out violent attacks.
Israel also asked the PA to speak with leaders of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons to prevent a hunger strike scheduled for March 25, which could cause unrest in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Qadri Abu Bakr, director of the Palestinian Prisoners Commission, said the strike would be strategic. It will not be individual but collective, in which all Palestinian factions will participate.
Meanwhile, Israel’s General Security Service chief Ronen Bar briefed US officials on possible problems during his first visit to the US since taking office five months ago, from which he returned early of last week. The IDF believes that such an escalation in Jerusalem will spread to the West Bank and become more widespread.
Retired Israeli Colonel David Chakham, a former Arab affairs adviser to the Israeli Defense Ministry, told Arab News: “We are going through a sensitive time; this year (it) coincides with the month of Ramadan, when not a day goes by without violence occurring in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and the security situation is turbulent and may suddenly deteriorate.
Chakham said what worries Israeli security officials most is the possibility of Hamas joining in clashes and violent incidents that could erupt in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, leading to a circle of violence. wider.
“If a wave of violence erupts against the IDF, the police and the settlers, Hamas will certainly be the first to join in and fuel it, and in the event of injuries and deaths, the cycle of violence can extend into the extent we don’t expect,” he added.
Israeli political analyst Yoni Ben-Menahem told Arab News that there is Jordanian concern over Jordan’s position in Islamic holy sites, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and that allowing Jews to enter in the courtyards of sites during Ramadan would weaken Amman’s position as guardian of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem. King Abdullah is therefore working with the parties concerned, Israel and the PA, to calm the situation by not allowing Jews to enter the sites during Ramadan to defuse tensions and violence.
Ben-Menahem added that the Palestinian Authority also feared that the outbreak of violence would strengthen the position and popularity of Hamas, and weaken Fatah’s ruling authority in the West Bank.
Hamas leader Harun Nasser Al-Din warned Israel in a statement obtained by Arab News: “The Israelis have tested the Palestinian reaction to their actions in the past, and this time it will not be less, but it could be a double reaction if…Israeli measures against the Palestinians continue, especially during Ramadan”.