The Palestinians are sending us mixed messages. In Zurich, Jibril Rajoub – or Gabriel Regev, as his friends at the Shin Bet security service like to call him – was until this weekend trying to get Israel kicked out of FIFA, world soccer's governing body. And in Jordan, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is moaning bitterly about the actions of the Israeli government, while speaking in the same breath about the need for increased economic cooperation due to the dire situation facing an already despairing West Bank population.
I spoke this week to a military official who tried to set things straight for me. The defense minister, the chief of staff and the coordinator of government activities in the territories are in favor of a liberal policy, he said. They have been encouraging the establishment of Palestinian industrial zones in Jalami, Qalqiliyah and Tarkumiyeh, all three of which lie along the seam line; in Jalami, the initial groundwork has already begun; the segregated bus issue aside, more and more Palestinian workers are being allowed into Israel; the Palestinian Authority understands that Israel's leadership wants to bolster it.
Institutionalized terrorism is on the decline. The Palestinian security mechanisms are taking swift action against all terror cells. During the course of the past year, they have come to the aid of no fewer than 538 Jews who accidentally wound up in Area A. That's an impressive number; and it has clearly helped maintain the quiet.
Shooting attacks are very few and far between, and there's no suicide terror; but there have been vehicular attacks and stabbings. People with complex personal stories hear a sermon in the mosque, see a film, read a tweet on social media – and decide to carry out an attack. Israel Defense Forces officials have tried to characterize the actions of these individuals: Is there a pattern? Do they use the same language? The profiling efforts have proved unsuccessful until now.
The main concern is what will happen in the fall, once the talks with Iran are over, at the time of Ramadan and the Jewish High Holy Days. On the ground, the PA is getting weaker – and this is a major worry for the IDF.
Elaborate, please, I asked my source. The main problem, he said, are the refugee camps. The PA is totally absent from them. We are seeing efforts by local leaderships – in the refugee camps around Nablus, for example – to join forces and work together.
The second problem concerns Fatah's intermediate generation, which sees its road to the top of the pyramid blocked. Fatah's veteran leadership has refrained from convening the organization's institutions for good reason.
The third problem is the opposition. The money that Mohammed Dahlan gets from the regime in Dubai goes towards refugee camps in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, helping orphans and funding weddings. Abbas views him as the enemy.
The fourth problem is the youth. They are charged up. And the only vision with which they can identify is the struggle against Israel.
In the meantime, however, the survival instinct trumps all. First the economy, and then the national struggle.
The head of the IDF's Judea and Samaria Division, Brigadier General Tamir Yadai, took a tour recently of Hebron. He was greeted by a delegation of 50 Palestinian merchants. They didn't say a word about the peace process or the settlers on the city's Shuhada Street.
Topping the agenda was the commercial potential of the town. They went with Yadai from one factory to the next. When they arrived at a mattress factory, the brigadier general asked which Israeli company they were manufacturing for. They escorted him to a wall displaying labels with the names of various Israeli companies. Take your pick, they said to him.