Israel prepares for September violence in West Bank

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s military is making intensive preparations for an outbreak violence in the West Bank over a U.N. vote in September on recognizing a Palestinian state, Israeli military officials said Monday.

Palestinians, meanwhile, pushed ahead with their drive. Palestinian officials are fanning out around the world to raise support for their initiative. They hope to change the minds of U.S. leaders, who appear poised to veto a resolution in the U.N. Security Council to admit Palestine as a full member of the United Nations.

For the first time, a senior Palestinian official described a fallback position Monday.

Nabil Shaath said if the U.S. blocks the initiative for U.N. membership, the Palestinians would try for nonmember state status at the world body. “This would open the way for us to get membership in all the U.N. institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund,” he said.

The statehood campaign emerged from the long deadlock in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and the Palestinian conviction that the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not serious about making peace.

On Sunday, the West Bank Palestinian leadership formally decided to seek U.N. recognition of a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

While a vote in the U.N. General Assembly would be little more than symbolic, it could change the equation in the minds of Palestinians and Israelis alike, energizing Palestinians to resist Israel’s occupation of the West Bank in both violent and nonviolent ways.

Israel is already planning its response, starting with a seminar Tuesday for all levels of the military command structure on dealing with riots and protests, military officials said.

Military officials said the army is bringing in large quantities of non-lethal crowd control equipment to deal with potential mass protests. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the military is preparing for a full range of possibilities, including riots, attacks, marches and demonstrations.

They said all routine training exercises set for September have been canceled to make soldiers available for duty in the West Bank, and reservists will be called up to replace the regular soldiers at the borders.

Israel rarely mobilizes reservists unless a combat situation is facing the country, illustrating the seriousness of the perceived threat.

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