If it starts with a splash of gas into the intake, then you have a fuel delivery problem. You could verify with a fuel pressure gauge to be sure. You need 31 psi of pressure to start the engine (old fuel system) and 49 psi of fuel pressure to start the engine (new fuel system).
96 was a year where changes were made to the fuel system. Early 96 XJs had the old fuel system and later mfg. XJs had the new fuel system, same as 97-01. If you have a fuel pressure regulator under the hood, then you have the old style system where you do not have to drop the tank to change the fuel pump.
If you have the new fuel system, you must drop the tank and replace the fuel pump, you shouldn't entertain trying anything else.
If you need a fuel pump, be sure you know what fuel system you have before heading for the parts store! I recommend installing the entire FUEL PUMP ASSEMBLY while you are at it if the tank comes down. Bosh, Carter good choices. Don't buy an Airtex. I won't install them nor will I recommend them.
99 Cherokee, 4.0 AW4, NP242
Past Jeeps: 49 Willys, 81 Scrambler, 88 Comanche
Without "data", all you have is an opinion!