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September 30, 2015

Analyst: Palestinian Leadership Faces “Dangerous” Generational Crisis

Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership faces a “dangerous generational crisis” according to Grant Rumley, a specialist on Palestinian and Jordanian politics at the Washington D.C.-based think tank, Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Writing in Business Insider, Rumley argues there is growing and visible discontent within the PA over the rule of President and Fatah movement head Mahmoud Abbas (“The Palestinians are facing a dangerous generational crisis,” Sept. 29, 2015).

Abbas—currently in the tenth-year of a four-year term—lacks a “clear successor or a national strategy.” This is apparent, Rumley argues, as Palestinian dissent and dissatisfaction increase.

Footage of PA security forces “violently clubbing” West Bank Arabs spurred protests in refugee camps and street demonstrations against both the authority and Abbas. Abbas—similar to his predecessor Yasser Arafat—increasingly has consolidated his control over the PA, Fatah and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But the PA resident now faces growing discontent with his essentially one-man rule.

As CAMERA observed recently, a Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey poll shows a majority of West Bank (Judea and Samaria) Arabs feel the PA “has become a burden on the Palestinian people and for the first time…a majority now demands the dissolution of that authority”(“Poll: Majority of Palestinians Support Another Intifada,” Sept. 25, 2015).

The 80-year-old Abbas also faces internal criticism over what his critics allege to be a manipulation of PLO bylaws following his announcement that he and other members of the PLO’s executive committee would resign to procedurally force a meeting of the PLO’s legislative body, the Palestinian National Council (PNC).

Members of Fatah’s legislative body, the Revolutionary Council, have been demanding that Abbas name a successor. The council, Rumley states, “is split on both a generational and an ideological level.” These divisions have been exacerbated by internal arguments over Abbas’ unilateral decision to exile a potential rival, Mohammed Dahlan, the PA’s former head in the Gaza Strip before Hamas seized power there. Dahlan, aged 54, is representative of a younger generation seeking power in Palestinian politics.

According to FDD’s Rumley:

“The debate over Dahlan and the contest over who gets nominated for the PLO executive committee will extend into Fatah’s conference in November. According to Fatah’s bylaws, the group is supposed to have a conference every five years in order to hold internal elections. However, the last conference was in 2009, and since the party’s founding in 1965 it has only managed five other conferences. With questions surrounding Abbas’s lack of a successor, his overall strategy, and the future of the party, the upcoming conference is potentially explosive.”

The PA president’s seeming solution to this turmoil inside and outside his ranks?

Abbas “appears set to deflect domestic criticisms by attacking Israel at the U.N. General Assembly meeting on September 30,” Rumley said. There, some observers expected him to call for annulling the Oslo accords—the very agreement with Israel responsible for establishing the Palestinian Authority (“Want to Really Help Refugees?” Tablet, Sept. 24, 2015). In his speech, Abbas did just that ("Abbas: Palestine a state under occupation, no longer bound by Oslo accords," Times of Israel, Sept. 30, 2015).

Grant Rumley’s article in Business Insider can be found here. His recent FDD report (“The Race to Replace Mahmoud Abbas,” Sept. 3, 2015) examining possible successors to Abbas can be found here.

Posted by SD at September 30, 2015 09:55 AM

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