Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (AP/Raad Adayleh) (AP/Raad Adayleh)
Mahmoud Abbas

Who will succeed the ailing Abbas? What impact will it have on the PA’s relations with Jerusalem and Washington?

By: Daniel Krygier, United with Israel

Reports of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’ failing health has once again sparked speculations whether we are approaching the end of an era.

Sooner or later, the ailing Abbas will be replaced. Who will succeed him and what impact will it have on the peace process with Israel and PA’s relations with Jerusalem and Washington?

Before addressing these questions, it is important to keep in mind that in practice, Abbas did not deviate from his predecessor Yasser Arafat’s rejection of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Abbas and Arafat differed more in style than in content. In fact, Abbas’ false image of “moderation” when speaking to the West turned him into an even more dangerous foe since it brought unprecedented international pressures on Israel.

Senior Fatah official Mahmoud al-Aloul has emerged as one of the main contenders to succeed Abbas. Al-Aloul was involved in terrorism against Israel during the First Lebanon War in the 1980s. His oldest son Jihad was killed in clashes with Israeli soldiers during the Second Intifada. In terms of political outlook, al-Aloul is believed to share similar opinions to Abbas. He supports boycotts of Israeli products and rejects the US as a peace mediator.

Saeb Erekat is another potential candidate who may succeed Abbas. After playing a key role in the Oslo Accords, Erekat gained a reputation as a “moderate” and served for many years as a chief negotiator in during the “peace talks” with Israel. In recent years, his false mask of “moderation” has fallen after repeated Orwellian statements in which he denied 3,000 years of Jewish history in Jerusalem and Israel.

Erekat also made headlines by claiming that his ancestors lived in the territory that is now the modern State of Israel for 10,000 years. In reality, Erekat’s Bedouin family was reported to have moved approximately 100 years ago to the Land of Israel from the area of the Arabian Peninsula that is now Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this year, Erekat told Nicki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, to “shut up” when she criticized Ramallah for being an obstacle to genuine peace.

Mohammed Dahlan is another contender. However, since his power base is mainly in Gaza, it is unlikely that this hardline Fatah official will emerge as the new head of the Ramallah regime.

Jailed terrorist leader Marwan Barghouti’s name has been mentioned frequently in succession talks. Barghouti openly opposes Israel’s right to exist, and it is highly unlikely that Israel will release this radical who is convicted for murdering Israeli civilians.

In the 19th century, the decaying Ottoman empire was described as the “sick man of Europe.” In the 21st century, Abbas is the face of the decaying and corrupt Ramallah regime, which offers its citizens economic hardship, genocidal Jew-hatred and oppression.

Regardless of who eventually replaces Abbas, genuine peace with Israel will remain a pipe dream and Ramallah’s relations with Jerusalem and Washington will stay tense for the foreseeable future. A society that embraces death over life is not a partner for genuine peace with Israel.

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