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Hady Amr (L) with PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Photo: Palestinian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty

The State Department’s point person on Israel-Palestine warned Israeli officials during his talks in Jerusalem this week that the Palestinian Authority is facing dangerous economic and political crises, three Israeli officials told me.

Why it matters: The Palestinian Authority is going through a deep legitimacy crisis after the postponement of the parliamentary elections and the death of a political activist in the custody of Palestinian security forces.

  • The situation has been exacerbated by a financial crisis largely driven by the coronavirus pandemic.

Driving the news: Hady Amr, the deputy assistant secretary of state for Israeli-Palestinian affairs, arrived in the region on Sunday, meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s aides and senior government officials in Ramallah before meeting Israeli officials in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

  • Israeli officials who attended the meetings with Amr or were briefed on it told me he stressed that he came back from Ramallah very concerned. “I have never seen the Palestinian Authority in a worse situation," Amr said, according to Israeli officials.
  • The Israeli officials added that Amr told them that the combination of the financial and political crises puts the Palestinian Authority in a very precarious situation.“It is like a dry forest waiting to catch on fire," he said, according to sources.
  • The State Department declined to comment.

The big picture: Amr proposed several measures the Israeli government can take to help the Palestinian economy and the Palestinian Authority’s budget, and ultimately strengthen its standing in the occupied West Bank.

What’s next: A source familiar with Amr’s talks told me that he stressed to both Palestinian and Israeli officials that he isn’t going to press them or beg for them to take steps and they will have to work it out themselves. “If you want the U.S. to help, we will be happy to do it."

Go deeper

Oct 21, 2021 - World

Scoop: Israel and France hold secret talks to end NSO spyware crisis

Anyone listening? Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Israeli national security adviser Eyal Hulata secretly visited Paris several days ago for talks with his counterparts at the Élysée aimed at ending the crisis around the alleged use of Pegasus spyware developed by Israeli firm NSO to hack the cell phones of President Emmanuel Macron and other top French officials, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The alleged misuse of NSO software has become a major diplomatic headache for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government. The crisis led to a partial freeze on diplomatic, security and intelligence cooperation between Israel and France and the suspension of high-level bilateral visits.

Updated 9 mins ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.

Updated 35 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden calls Fox News reporter a "stupid son of a b---h" on hot mic

President Biden blasted Fox News' Peter Doocy on Monday after the reporter asked if the nation's soaring inflation is a political liability, saying, "what a stupid son of a b----h."

The latest: The president called Doocy Monday evening, the reporter told Fox's Sean Hannity. "He cleared the air and I appreciated it. We had a nice call," Doocy said when asked whether the president apologized, adding: "I don't need anyone to apologize to me."