Abbas Continues to Threaten, But How Likely is a Third Intifada?
In statements and proclamations, the Palestinian leadership has been trying to influence the results of the upcoming Israeli elections, threatening violence and what they claim is an unavoidable third intifada should the right wing control the next government. Yet a newly published research paper from the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Ariel, led by Professor Alexander Bligh, argues that the Israeli public should not be fooled by these empty threats, as a third intifada, if it happens, would not result from calls issued by the leadership, and would rise from the ground instead.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has made numerous threats to disband the PA if Binyamin Netanyahu and the Right establish the next government and has tried to sway Israeli voters by warning them that the re-election of Netanyahu would be a disaster for the "peace process" and would result in violence and chaos in Judea and Samaria.
"If there is no progress [in the peace process] even after the election I will take the phone and call [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu," Abbas said in an interview with Haaretz, "I'll tell him…Sit in the chair here instead of me, take the keys, and you will be responsible for the Palestinian Authority."
Yet according to Bligh, these threats have little validity.
"It seems that the positions of the Palestinian leadership, the two components, that of the PLO and the PA, and Hamas, have not yet formed support for a third violent intifadat. There are shades of supporters of this position, but there are brake components," the research paper stated.
Bligh stressed that an intifada is not necessarily the result of a decision from above, and that events on the ground are usually what cause such uprisings. "The area is indeed more volatile than ever before, and if, G-d forbid, a difficult event occurs, a kind of 'explosive' event, it may cause a spark," he stated, adding that an intifada would be set off by individual Arab clans and not collective violence.
"Arab clans in Judea and Samaria were and still are the backbone of the Palestinian people… Even today they hold the main power centers in Judea and Samaria. Hamas is aware of this, of course, and is trying to penetrate and seep into these clans, using religious Islamic aspects.
"Their efforts are bearing fruit. But it is highly doubtful that they have gained enough strength to push the whole area into another intifada," the paper stated.