Negotiations, not violence, to bring peace to West Bank: Israeli officials

Negotiations, not violence, to bring peace to West Bank: Israeli officials
# 26 February 2013 01:12 (UTC +04:00)

Naku-APA. Israeli officials are urging the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to curb the protests that have been taking place for over a week in the West Bank, so as to avoid a more deteriorated situation, local media reported Monday, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

The Israeli government, through chief negotiator Yizhak Molkho, on Sunday delivered a message to PNA's President Mahmoud Abbas, asking him to "take the necessary measures to calm down the situation on the ground in the West Bank."

After more than a week of protests in support of four hunger- striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, the situation in the West Bank has been worsening, with violent confrontations between protesters and the Israeli army.

Israeli media and some PNA officials have warned of the possibility of a third Intifada if events continue to unfold.

"Israel expects the Palestinian Authority to act responsibly to prevent incitement and violence which will only exacerbate the situation," Prime Minister Benjamin Netnyahu's spokesman, Mark Regev, told Xinhua.

"Ultimately not violence, but peace talks, is what is needed. The PNA needs to answer our calls for a renewal of the peace process instead of allowing protests on the streets," Regev said.

Despite the warnings, most Israeli analysts see little chance of a third Intifada flaring up.

"I wouldn't say this is like the second Intifada, but the situation on the ground is burning up," Yoram Meital, expert on Arab Affairs at the Ben Gurion University, told Xinhua.

"This is a wake-up call for Netanyahu, that this situation could not prevail, that the policy of sitting and doing nothing failed. These protests could lead to a civic peaceful movement, they could struggle peacefully against the occupation, I think this is more likely than a continuation of the violence that took place during the second Intifada," Meital said.

The protests have been growing more violent since last week, prompting Israel's military to increase the alert level in the area and bring more troops to the West Bank.

Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz convened a special situation assessment with top brass on Saturday night and instructed to complete preparations for "grave developments," the Yediot Aharonot daily said.

"We are always on a high alert level in the West Bank, and we have seen disturbances in the West Bank grow in the last months," a military source told Xinhua. "To deal with these new protests, we have ordered soldiers to minimize the use of force as much as they can, so as not to spike the violence, but despite these events, I really don't see the possibility of a third Intifada breaking out," the source said.

"Honestly, the violence has grown after Pillar of Defense ( Israel's latest operation against Hamas in the Gaza strip in November 2012), since Hamas has more influence in the West Bank," the source added.

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