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A region on edge: Why this is a dangerous moment for Israel and West Bank

Make no mistake, this is a very dangerous moment for Israel and the West Bank.

The attack outside a synagogue in east Jerusalem, which killed seven civilians and injured many more, comes after weeks of increasing violence in the West Bank, in which 30 Palestinians have been killed.

Just hours after the synagogue shooting, Israeli authorities said two people were wounded in an attack in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan in east Jerusalem.

And we are still less than a month into 2023.

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Two people were wounded in an attack in Jerusalem on Saturday


Add to that, deepening fractures within Israeli society, with tens of thousands taking to the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to protest policies of the country’s newly formed right-wing government, and it feels like we are at a tipping point.

The prospect of another popular uprising, a Third Intifada, has been threatened many times over many years, but it does feel like we’re at an inflection point right now.

A conflagration of politics and violence has put the region on edge.

Anger and hate has been steadily simmering in the West Bank.

Palestinians complain about the expansion of Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories, a lack of basic services like waste disposal, water provision, and the absence of hope, in particular for the younger generation.

A map of Neve Yaakov, where the shooting took place
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The synagogue shooting took place in Neve Yaakov

The prospect of peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis has not so much faded as totally disappeared.

Thirty years after the signing of the Oslo Accords, a supposed blueprint to build a two-state solution, and the situation is arguably worse than it’s ever been.

Israel has a new government, only a few weeks old, headed by the veteran Benjamin Netanyahu but with many far-right, nationalist politicians in the cabinet.

This will present a dilemma for Netanyahu, who will be under international pressure to calm the situation, whilst having to address voices in his cabinet who will want a tough response to Palestinian violence.

Benjamin Netanyahu
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Israel has a new government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu

Although the situation in Gaza has remained largely calm, with the exception of a brief rocket exchange earlier in the week, Hamas is encouraging Palestinian resistance in the West Bank.

These situations can dissipate as quickly as they flare up, but this time it’s as tense as I’ve known it.

No one is quite sure what the coming weeks will bring.

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