Senior PA official: ‘Our fingers are on the triggers’

Jibril Rajoub warns against Israeli annexation of settlements in Judea and Samaria saying “the next 10 days will be decisive and dangerous.”

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A senior Palestinian official warned that Palestinians would not “raise the white flag” if Israel moves ahead with plans to annex settlements in Judea and Samaria, but a Palestinian affairs expert said Sunday a wary Palestinian public probably would not back up the leaders calls for violence.

Speaking Sunday at press conference in Ramallah, Jabril Rajoub said that Israeli annexation would mean that Israel intends to “liquidate” the Palestinian Authority. Rajoub, the former head of Palestinian Preventive Security with the rank of general, is a member of the Central Committee of the Fatah Movement headed by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

“The next 10 days will be decisive and dangerous. We are not confident that Israel and the United States will retract and on this basis we made our decision that annexation is rejected, and the next steps depend on what will happen during these 10 days,” Rajoub said in comments reported by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

Rajoub, charged with heading the Palestinian Authority campaign against annexation, said the Palestinians would use “peaceful protest,” but followed that with a threat that “our fingers are on the triggers.”

While Israeli media all covered Rajoub’s “fingers on the trigger” comment, that line was left out of the press release issued by WAFA. Since leaving his security position, Rajoub has headed the Palestinian soccer federation where he has spent the past several years trying to get Israel kicked out of FIFA, the world governing body for soccer. That backfired in 2018 when FIFA suspended Rajoub for year after he called on Palestinian soccer fans to carry out violent acts to protest a friendly soccer match between Israel and Argentina at which superstar Lionel Messi was due to participate.

Despite Rajoub’s ominous rhetoric over annexation, veteran Palestinian affairs reporter Yoni Ben Menachem doubted a new armed uprising would happen if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu follows through on his plans beginning July 1 to apply Israeli sovereignty on Israel settlements in Judea and Samaria.

“The Palestinian public lacks motivation and confidence in its leadership,” Ben Menachem wrote on the website, adding that Rajoub’s plans “for mass rallies and parades is already experiencing difficulties due to the recurrence of the coronavirus in the Nablus and Hebron regions that threatens to spread to other areas as well.”

Ben Menachem, a veteran reporter and fluent Arabic speaker who has covered Palestinian affairs for decades, noted that Palestinian officials made similar threats of violence over the Trump Administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and then moving the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv.

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The Palestinian public in the West Bank is tired and exhausted and is not interested in heavy strategic problems such as annexation and sovereignty,” Ben Menachem said.

In the eyes of the Palestinian public, the PA is seen as weak against Israel and also corrupt, the public has lost confidence in its leadership, many have no motivation to participate in the third intifada,” he noted.