The Battle Over Abbas’ Successor Will Entail Conflict and Instability
At present, the issue of any leadership change in the Palestinian Authority (PA) is hypothetical.
Mahmoud Abbas shows no sign of either abdicating or designating a successor, or to take a leap forward on either the issue of Israel as the state of the Jewish people or the Palestinian “right of return.”
In the long-term, of course, an alliance between pragmatists such as Jibril Rajoub, the former head of preventive security in the West Bank, and Majid al-Faraj, the chief of general intelligence (provided they prevail over other candidates), could pave the way for a Jordanian-Palestinian federation, which is the only feasible option for the PA.
Rajoub and Faraj share a common security background, and have both cooperated with the Israeli security structure. They share a commitment to governance at the expense of ideology, as well as a mutual hostility to Hamas, and particularly to Mohammed Dahlan and jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who would be their chief rivals for Abbas’ position.
The succession will entail conflict and instability. Consolidation will initially take priority over peacemaking.
Despite this, instability might have its virtues, as the more unstable the situation, the more palatable a federation between Jordan and the PA will become.
Hillel Frisch is a professor of political studies and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University, and a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family.