The PA’s 87-year-old leader, who is a heavy smoker with heart problems, has no designated successor.

By Baruch Yedid, TPS

The Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar reported on Wednesday from sources in Fatah that in recent months, several meetings have been held between Palestinian officials and senior Jordanian and Egyptian officials to settle the “future status of the Palestinian Authority and Fatah” in the event Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dies.

The 87-year-old Abbas is a heavy smoker, known to have heart problems and once overcame a battle with prostate cancer. He has no designated successor.

Abbas and the PA are deeply unpopular. In a recent Palestinian survey, 81% said the PA was corrupt and 75% said Abbas should resign. Palestinians have not held national elections since 2005 and Abbas is in the 17th year of what was supposed to be a four-year term.

According to Al Akhbar, Palestinian officials, including Hussein al-Sheikh, who was promoted by Abbas to the position of Fatah Secretary General, met with representatives of Jordan’s Royal Court and intelligence service to discuss various scenarios expected in Palestinian areas after Abbas’s death.

Most of the discussions dealt with Fatah-Hamas relations, and relations between Fatah leaders themselves, several of whom are fighting to succeed Abbas as Palestinian leader.

A similar meeting was held in Egypt, in which the Palestinians demanded Egyptian aid to prevent the collapse of the PA. They also asked for financial help against efforts to erode Fatah’s legitimacy by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Palestinian officials appealed to the Egyptian and Jordanian sides with a request to help them also control the rival factions after the death of Abbas and to recognize Fatah as “representatives of the Palestinian people.” The PA civil service is the largest employer of Palestinians with more than 150,000 people on the payroll, and Fatah wants to control the funding for all the salaries after the demise of Abbas.

Referring to Abbas by his nickname, Abu Mazen, Al Akhbar‘s sources added, “Those present at the meetings came to the conclusion that the collapse of the government after the departure of Abu Mazen must be prevented, and Arab support must be ensured for one Fatah leader, after he is elected with the consent of the movement’s leadership, which will convene the day after Abu Mazen to regulate its internal conditions.”

According to the report, it was also agreed that the split in Fatah should be ended by accepting figures who defected from it, such as Mohammed Dahlan, Nasser al-Kidwa and Marwan Barghouti, and to hold an internal reconciliation conference where new roles would be distributed by agreement.

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