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Implications of Israel's incursion into the occupied West Bank on peace prospects

ROB SCHMITZ, HOST:

Israel's far-right government is facing more protests. Demonstrations last night blocked roads and highways following the resignation of Tel Aviv's police chief due to political pressure. Earlier yesterday, thousands marched in Jenin for the funeral of at least a dozen Palestinians killed during Israel's two-day incursion in the occupied West Bank city. One Israeli soldier was also killed during the military operation. Questions remain about what was achieved. Joining me now is Khaled Elgindy. He's a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute and directs its Israeli-Palestinian Affairs program. Good morning.

KHALED ELGINDY: Good morning.

SCHMITZ: So this was the largest incursion in the West Bank in almost two decades. What was Israel's strategy here?

ELGINDY: Well, the context for this is, for the past year and a half, there has been, basically, an armed rebellion in - concentrated in the northern West Bank, particularly around Jenin and Nablus cities. And things have escalated, particularly since this new extreme government came in, in Israel. And in the last few weeks, there's been another escalation in that Palestinian militants have used a number of explosive devices that have destroyed some army personnel and some jeeps. And this is an attempt, really, by the Israeli army to crush this rebellion that is centered in places like Jenin.

SCHMITZ: So I mean, as you mentioned, this is the most right-wing government in Israel's history.

ELGINDY: Yeah.

SCHMITZ: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that the expansion of Jewish settlements would continue in the West Bank. Does this incursion pave the way for that?

ELGINDY: Well, it certainly doesn't hurt. It's really part and parcel of, I think - this extreme government's agenda is to expand settlements. They've been quite vocal not only about their intention to expand settlements, but to basically annex the West Bank. And there is no political process in place. Palestinians have felt a sense of despair. And Israel needs to use more and more violence in order to maintain its occupation.

SCHMITZ: So Israel has said it has to do these raids because the Palestinian security forces are not reining in the militias that we were talking about earlier. Do Palestinian leaders have the power and incentive to do that?

ELGINDY: Well, they really don't. And what we've seen, especially over the last year and a half, the Palestinian Authority has basically lost control in both of these cities, but particularly in Jenin. And they've lost control not because they don't want to control the situation. For many years, the Palestinian Authority has been able to keep the calm in the West Bank. And unlike places like Jerusalem and Gaza, for example, the West Bank has been relatively calm in large part because of the PA's security cooperation. But the Palestinian leadership has basically lost credibility with its people. And they're seen as a kind of collaborationist regime. And so they've been driven out of places like Jenin.

SCHMITZ: That's Khaled Elgindy, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute. Thank you so much.

ELGINDY: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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