Alarming New Israeli-Palestinian Escalation Underscores Need for Firm, Proactive US Leadership

January 27, 2023

J Street is deeply concerned by the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territory, and urges firm and proactive US leadership to encourage restraint and help prevent any further escalation in violence.

The past 36 hours have seen the Palestinian Authority suspend critical security cooperation with Israel, following a major IDF incursion into the Jenin refugee camp in which at least nine Palestinians were killed, reportedly including Islamic Jihad militants and at least one civilian, and over twenty injured. The IDF incursion reportedly sought to prevent a potential terror attack. We have also seen a despicable and dangerous attempt by terrorist factions to exploit the situation with a round of rocket fire directed at Israeli civilians, which prompted IDF airstrikes on Gaza in response.

This escalation comes just before Secretary of State Blinken is scheduled to visit the region, and as CIA Director Bill Burns is already reportedly visiting Israel and the West Bank. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also recently met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. This very welcome round of high-level engagement by the Biden Administration is a vital opportunity to do everything possible to head off further disaster – by delivering firm, clear messages to both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority.

With Palestinian leaders, the US must stress the need to do everything possible to prevent incitement and acts of terror by militant groups, and underscore the critical importance of coordinating with Israel to prevent further dangerous escalation in the West Bank. With the new right-wing Netanyahu government, they must make clear their opposition to any acts of deepening occupation or annexation that further inflame tensions and undercut Palestinian aspirations for independent statehood. They should also stress that policies designed to undermine and harshly penalize the Palestinian Authority as retribution for acts of nonviolent opposition to occupation are harmful, and will only empower extremist factions and endanger Israel’s security.

As the Biden Administration has repeatedly stressed, Israelis and Palestinians equally deserve to live safely and securely. To help end the cycle of violence and secure a safe and equal future for both peoples, the US must pursue policies designed not only to manage or reduce tensions, but ultimately to transform the deteriorating status quo of endless conflict and permanent occupation.