With more than two decades of trying to secure an independent Palestinian state through negotiations at a hopeless dead end, the aging Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas now hopes to begin scaling down his responsibilities, with a view towards an orderly succession of power.
But after a decade in which Mr Abbas failed to groom a deputy or successor, in keeping with a tradition of one-man rule in the Arab world and in order to cast himself as indispensable, analysts in the West Bank and Gaza do not expect the transition to be smooth. Indeed, the sense in the Palestinian Authority’s de facto capital, Ramallah, is that the lack of any one outstanding candidate to succeed Mr Abbas, and infighting within his Fatah movement, promise to make the process tortuous, chaotic, dangerous and perhaps unworkable.
Nabil Shaath, a long-time adviser to Mr Abbas and a former foreign minister who now serves as Fatah’s foreign relations commissioner, told The Independent: “He thinks it’s about time he reduces his load but he is responsible enough not to leave things behind in a way that disturbs matters.
“He’s saying: ‘I’m doing my best to prepare for an era when I will not be able to continue.’ It’s not a secret. He’s told this to [Egyptian President Abdul-Fatah] al Sisi, [Jordan’s] King Abdullah and [US Secretary of State John] Kerry and he might say it at the UN General Assembly.”