There is no doubt that persistent violence in the West Bank increases the risk that violence and chaos will expand. Since the recent military operations began in the West Bank, there have been expectations that they would expand and have various consequences. Despite attempts to mediate and calls for calm, the ongoing violence on the ground is becoming more complicated and has the potential to expand across the Palestinian territories.
Despite the political discourse of ‘unity of the squares’ amongst resistance factions in the region calling for unity of the Palestinian resistance in Gaza and the West Bank, it has not really been applied on the ground, perhaps with some exceptions with unknown rockets fired against Israel from Lebanon and one from the Golan Heights.
There is a real risk that these confrontations will turn into a continuous situation in the West Bank, and thus also threaten the socio-political reality in a very radical way. As the issue of succession of President Abbas has not been addressed decisively by the regional countries involved in the Palestinian scene, or even the international powers. The situation could add to the risk of political unrest that the failure of resolving the issue of Abbas' succession may cause. There is a tendency to deal with the West Bank solely from the perspective of security coordination, rather than considering the political implications.
Meanwhile, with succession up in the air, Hamas has begun the process of promoting itself as a major political player, not only in Gaza, but also in the West Bank. Since the end of the battle of "Sword of Al Quds" Hamas has been in a process of regional repositioning. For example, they put an end to the dispute with Syria and then visited Saudi Arabia, as part of a strategy to position itself with Arab countries and no longer be seen as a proxy for Iran. This can also be interpreted as a desire of the movement to adopt a more diplomatic approach to help Hamas navigate more easily and effectively on a regional level. It will also potentially create opportunities to play a major role in the rearrangement of the Palestinian political scene in the coming phase.
For a country like Jordan, as the most impacted country on all levels, from security to demographic, from any ongoing turmoil and violence in the Palestinian territories, it is important to have a clear vison of how to deal with the different scenarios that the situation in West Bank might bring. Moreover, Jordan must engage with all Palestinian protagonists to protect Jordanian interests, especially given in recent years, Jordan has vacated various strategic angles and left it to other countries, such as relations with Hamas.
Jordan must now adopt an open-door approach with all Palestinian political protagonists, and this should be part of Jordan’s strategy to avoid turmoil, de-stabilisation and escalation of violence in the West Bank. Jordan should seek to position as the venue that all parties believe solutions can be found.
Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh