Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) have turned down a request by the Palestinian Authority to suspend their armed activities in the northern West Bank, Palestinian sources said on Wednesday.
On March 11, the two Iranian-backed groups boycotted a meeting of representatives of various Palestinian factions in Jenin. Initiated by senior officials from the PA and its ruling Fatah faction, the rare meeting was held as part of an effort to devise a “joint national program” to confront Israel.
The meeting came amid growing concern in Ramallah over the emergence of a number of armed groups, most of which are affiliated with Hamas and PIJ, in Jenin and Nablus over the past year.
PA and Fatah officials have also expressed deep concern over the cooperation between the armed groups that are affiliated with Hamas and PIJ and those belonging to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah.
Since the security summit between Israeli and Palestinian officials in the Jordanian resort of Aqaba late last month, the PA has stepped up the pressure on Hamas and PIJ to restrain their men in the West Bank and refrain from giving Israel an excuse to continue its military operations in Palestinian cities and villages, the sources told The Jerusalem Post.