Fayyad warns of new intifada

March 1, 2012
Palestinians protest in support of Islamic Jihad member Khader Adnan, freed last week after a hunger strike

Palestinians protest in support of Islamic Jihad member Khader Adnan, freed last week after a hunger strike

The Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, warned this week that "the security calm could collapse any moment".

Mr Fayyad was speaking following a round of violent confrontations between Palestinian youths and Israeli security forces over the weekend in which one Palestinian man was killed.

The Prime Minister called on the International Quartet to help re-launch the peace talks that stalled in January amid recriminations from both the Israelis and the Palestinians.

The violent demonstrations broke out last week in East Jerusalem and spread to the West Bank following a call on an Israeli right-wing website for Jews to march on Temple Mount.

Palestinian youths responded by stoning tourists who were visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque and confronting Israeli police and army patrols around Jerusalem.

Mr Fayyad and other Palestinian leaders have been warning their Israeli counterparts and Western diplomats that public frustrations could boil over into a "new intifada".

Some Israelis also share that concern. "We currently have very good co-ordination with the Palestinian Authority's security apparatus," said a senior IDF officer recently, "but if the current impasse in the diplomatic process continues, they will start asking themselves why they are helping us. They are certainly not Zionists, they are seeking to build their future state and if they see that is not happening, they will stop the co-ordination and may even be tempted to use their weapons against us."

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has also been ramping up the rhetoric. At a conference "for the Defence of Occupied Jerusalem" in Doha on Sunday, he said that Israel is trying to "Judaise the Old City" of Jerusalem by "changing the landscape, carrying out ethnic cleansing against Palestinians and destroying the infrastructure and economic resources". Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded angrily, saying that Abbas's words were, "severe incitement from someone who claims to be interested in peace".

Pro-Palestinian and BDS organisations are trying to launch a Global March to Jerusalem, scheduled to take place on March 30. They hope to gather tens of thousands of Palestinian demonstrators, along with supporters from around the world, the West Bank, Gaza and the refugee camps in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, on a march to border crossings where they plan to overwhelm the Israeli soldiers at the checkpoints.

Israeli officials are monitoring the plans but do not believe that a large event is likely. "There is noise on the internet, that doesn't mean it is going to materialise," said one diplomat.

Last updated: 3:25pm, March 1 2012