Here a Jewish community, one of the most hard-line in the occupied West Bank, lives in the heart of the largely Palestinian city, a constant source of friction that demands a continuous army presence for the protection of the Jewish settlers. It is a city divided, the Jewish quarter (where many Palestinians still live) under Israeli control, and the rest controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
Many Palestinians here support Hamas and have little patience for Mr. Abbas’ statehood bid, which few here believe will amount to much anyway.
“There will never be peace, there will never be freedom here,” laments Idris, a leathery man who has witnessed the entrenchment of Israeli occupation and settlements over 20 years of peace negotiations. Just yards away, an Israeli soldier shades himself from the afternoon sun, his rifle slung across his chest.
In the narrow streets of Jenin’s refugee camp in the northern West Bank, memories of Israel’s military incursion during the second intifada nearly a decade ago are still raw. Many Palestinian homes were flattened and dozens killed in a 10-day assault dubbed the Battle of Jenin when Israeli forces raided the camp, attempting to rout militants operating out of the warren-like streets.
Ex-fighters released from Israeli prisons roam the streets in search of scarce jobs, and a faltering economy combined with the PA’s inability to pay full salaries to its employees is feeding into a despair that is little served by what many see as fruitless diplomatic maneuvers.
“People here don’t care [about the UN],” says Adnan Nghnghia, the local director of the Freedom Theatre, a landmark project offering an outlet to the camp’s inhabitants. “They believe weak leaders will never bring anything to their people. I’m proud of Abu Mazen [Abbas] and Salam Fayyad but they have nothing in their hand.”