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Israel unsure about 'day after' Abbas, and even 'day before'

The latest Israeli intelligence assessment raises concerns about explosions of violence not only in Gaza, but also in the West Bank in light of the diplomatic stalemate and uncertainty surrounding President Mahmoud Abbas' remaining time in office.

In recent years, the working assumption of the Israeli security establishment has been that there is not enough negative energy among Palestinians in the territories that could lead to an eruption of grass-roots violence along the lines of the first and second intifadas. The moderating agents that operate against this kind of violence have been stable: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ rule, which from the start opposed the use of violence; the growing strength of the Palestinian security apparatuses, which enforce law and order throughout the West Bank; and primarily the Tanzim, the largest armed Palestinian organization, remaining outside the circle of violence and under the control and restraint of Abbas.

 Recent months, however, have seen a fundamental shift in this assumption.

The intelligence branch of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and its head, Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevy, presented a strategic warning to the Cabinet a few months ago about the possibility of all-out violence erupting on the Palestinian front. The warning reappeared Sept. 25 in the yearly intelligence assessment report distributed to military correspondents.

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