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Abu Mazen Tries to Calm The West Bank

The West Bank is seeing a new spike in protests and violence, but Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) still offers the best hope to avoid a third intifada, writes Shlomi Eldar.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas lights a torch during a rally marking the 48th anniversary of the founding of the Fatah movement in the West Bank city of Ramallah December 31, 2012. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman (WEST BANK - Tags: ANNIVERSARY POLITICS) - RTR3C0A1
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By now it is impossible to ignore. Tires are burning. Rocks are being thrown. Tear gas is sprayed, and the term “intifada” is getting tossed around. Everywhere people are saying that the current wave of unrest in the region will lead to a third intifada. They have been saying it — and worrying about it — for months.

Clashed erupted again last weekend throughout the West Bank, just like they did the weekend before. Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets to express their solidarity with Palestinians prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli prisons. But what started as organized demonstrations on Friday [Feb. 22] after the prayer in the mosques, took upon a more significant meaning with the arrival of the news of the death of a Palestinian prisoner, Arafat Jaradat. Jaradat died at the Israeli prison of Megido. He was not a hunger striker, and the reasons for his death are now being investigated. But there is no doubt that this event contributed to further fuel the fire. Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated by his village Sair near Hebron, and confronted Israeli soldiers. Hebron became a sensitive hotspot mainly due to the ongoing confrontations between the Jewish settlers living in the midst of the Palestinian population. Some of them are ready to employ any possible means to enrage their Palestinian neighbors. For example, at the traditional Purim carnival parade, one of the Jewish settlers disguised himself as a Palestinian prisoner, as if the issue is not but the most sensitive one, as far as Palestinians are concerned. 

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