‘Abbas- dead or alive, no one cares’: Battle to inherit Mahmoud Abbas in Fatah escalating

June 7, 2022 by Baruch Yedid - TPS
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At the end of the week, the media and journalists reported that some of the governmental powers were transferred from Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority chairman, to Hussein a-Sheikh, the PA Minister of Civil Affairs and Abbas’ recent controversial promotion to a member of the PLO Executive Committee, who became one of the leaders in the expected succession battle.

In a telephone conversation with the TPS, A-Sheikh denied the news and said that it was gossip that was circulating about Abbas’ health and was not true, “the president is in good health and doing his job as usual “while a senior security official in the PA explained that “these are trending and deliberate leaks intended to shock the Palestinian Authority.”

Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior Fatah figure, also appeared in the media and denied the news, alluding to Israeli involvement in the trending leaks.

Fatah sources say that the organization is very angry about the appointment of a-Sheikh as a member of the PLO Executive Committee, in place of Saeb Erekat, who died from the Coronavirus, without an orderly appointment procedure.

One of the figures most affected by this move is Jibril Rajoub, the great political rival of a-Sheikh, who has a very strong alliance with Majed Faraj, the head of PA intelligence, who hates Rajoub. Palestinian sources say that a-Sheikh and Faraj are now trying to convince Abbas that Rajoub should be removed from the centres of power and even taken away from the football and sports portfolio he holds.

On the other hand, other sources claim on behalf of Rajoub that the appointment of a-Sheikh came only because he maintains the economic interests and secrets of the Abbas family and that the move was intended to fortify Abbas’ loose and corrupt rule. Sources in Fatah, and especially Rajoub’s followers, are now demanding that a discussion be opened regarding the controversial appointment of a-Sheikh and convene the top of the organization.

The anger over the appointment is also very great in light of the allegations in Fatah that a-Sheikh has in fact become Israel’s stooge.

A Palestinian source told TPS that “the blatant political statements made by a-Sheikh in recent weeks regarding the status quo on the Temple Mount, the threat of severing relations with Israel, demands from the Americans and more, are all a smokescreen designed to present a-Sheikh as a nationalist and qualified leader in the eyes of the Palestinian street, following the problematic appointment.”

Another Palestinian source said that the appointment process was not proper and that a statement from Abbas’ office stated that he had been appointed secretary of the Executive Committee while a-Sheikh himself updated his Twitter account and wrote that he now serves as “general secretary,” which greatly increases his chances of succeeding Abbas.

The Fatah succession battle has gripped the Palestinian Authority at a very sensitive time and recently there have been many rumours

Thousands of people holding flags and chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s portraits, participating in a rally in Gaza City, marking the 55th anniversary of the Fatah movement foundation. Gaza, Jan 1, 2020. Photo by Majdi Fathi/TPS

of concern in Ramallah, including reports of Abbas’ alleged death, landing of a Jordanian helicopter with medical crews, transfer to hospitals in Tel Aviv or Europe, change of ministers, ousting of prime minister and more.

The unrest in Fatah is mounting even after a number of failures that are now attributed to the weakness of Abbas’ leadership and the government of Muhammad Shtayyeh.

Fatah also recently lost elections in the unions of pharmacists, doctors and engineers and even lost its lead in some of the colleges in the PA.

All of this is attributed by Fatah officials to the failed policy of Shtayyeh, who is an ally of Rajoub.

“You have succeeded, Abbas, in destroying our people, and here you are achieving success in destroying Fatah as you have promised from Oslo until now! But the revolution will continue to trip you because it is an unbreakable movement and was born out of free and revolutionary people,” Hassam Khader, a member of the Balata refugee camp, wrote against Abbas.

The political, economic and social situation in the Palestinian Authority has recently led to open concern about the day after Abbas’ death.

Nadia Harashash, a journalist from eastern Jerusalem, who is identified with the Muhammad Dahlan, who opposes Abbas, published an article entitled “If Abu Mazen [Abbas] lives or dies, people no longer care.”

“Every time I imagined the day after the man left, I would pray for his longevity because what awaited us seemed worse in the absence of elections, but as said, the worst is before us. Yesterday rumors began to circulate about the president’s health deteriorating, whether true or not I thought a lot about how a person gets to this really sad moment in his life. What is happening with Abu Mazen is definitely more difficult. He brought us as a people to the moment when we are waiting for death as our savior from his rule, even though we know for sure that whoever comes after him will surely be worse …”, Harashash wrote.

Hamas has also identified the problematic appointment and opposes the possibility that a-Sheikh will replace Abbas.

One of the Hamas-affiliated media outlets also wrote about the day after Abbas and against the appointment of a-Sheikh, and said that action should be taken against him because he was not elected in a legal proceeding. The publication also goes against the absence of an opposition to Abbas from Fatah, which is “entirely under Zionist dictates.”

The website also states that the Palestinian illusion that one cannot live without the Palestinian Authority, which has become a burden on the Palestinian people, must be stopped, and that the rule of Oslo must be overthrown by actions that emerge from the street, just as the Palestinians overthrew the Village Associations in 1981.

The website also called for a boycott of Palestinian Authority institutions and a civil uprising against government institutions.

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