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Israel crisis: Taking cue from US anger, Mahmoud Abbas digs in heels

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Abbas on shaky ground

But without any momentum on negotiations, the Palestinian Authority president is on shaky ground. The clashes around Jerusalem on Tuesday -- after his main Palestinian rival Hamas called for a "day of rage" -- demonstrated Palestinian frustration with the inability to stop the expansion of Israel's presence in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, say observers. A diplomatic vacuum leaves more room for tempers to heat up.

Despite speculation about the outbreak of a new Palestinian uprising in the West Bank, experts say the time isn't ripe. Beyond Jerusalem's borders, clashes erupted in a handful of West Bank locations and did not last long.

A revival of economic activity over the last year in West Bank cities has soured many Palestinians on a new period of instability. Moreover, unrest could undermine reforms in the Palestinian government and security forces while playing into the hands of Hamas.

And yet, the PA can't afford to ignore disappointment of Palestinians at the continuing impasse.

"The Palestinian Authority is trying to keep the situation as calm as possible, preferring to get support from the international community. But under heavy public pressure, they have to take measures," says Nashat Aqtash, a communications professor at Bir Zeit University. "It’s a complicated situation where you would like to improve economic situation, and to express anger. How can you get international support if you express anger, and how can you stay silent?''

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