PA autocrat obligated to make ‘dramatic declarations’ to remain relevant

PLO & Fatah associates of the 84 yr-old Palestinian autocrat rally behind Mahmoud Abbas to revive his stature with ‘dramatic announcements’ as the PA Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, appears to have gained respect & admiration during the months of the pandemic crises.



While the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic forced Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to maintain a low profile and restrict his public appearances, Israel’s intention to extend sovereignty to parts of the West Bank has brought him back to center stage.

During the coronavirus crisis, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh appeared to be alone at the helm, successfully leading efforts to stem the spread of the disease.

Propagandists and Palestinian Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh

Shtayyeh’s performance during the crisis has been applauded by many Palestinians, who said his chances of succeeding Abbas have significantly improved.

Alarmed by Shtayyeh’s growing stardom, Abbas’s associates have in recent weeks made a big effort to bring the 84-year-old Palestinian leader back to center stage.

The effort began with a series of news reports in the PA-controlled media aimed at showing that, contrary to recent speculation, Abbas was still in charge.

According to one report, Abbas “instructed” PA governors and commanders of Palestinian security forces on the need to take precautionary measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.

In late April, Abbas chaired a meeting of the PA government – via videoconference – for the first time since the beginning of the crisis in early March. Again, the move was designed to show Palestinians who’s boss in Ramallah.

Earlier this month, Abbas chaired a meeting of the PLO Executive Committee in Ramallah to discuss the latest developments surrounding the coronavirus crisis and Israel’s intention to apply Israeli law to parts of the West Bank.

The big day for Abbas, however, was on May 19, when he announced during a meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah that “the Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine are absolved, as of today, of all agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments and of all the obligations based on these understandings and agreements, including the security ones.”

Notwithstanding the controversy surrounding Abbas’s true intentions, his “dramatic” announcement has again put him under the spotlight as many Palestinians and journalists are busy debating whether his latest move was nothing but another empty threat.

The May 19 announcement has allowed Abbas to reassert his position as the uncontested leader making decisive and historic decisions on behalf of the Palestinians. His prime minister, Shtayyeh, on the other hand, is being depicted by the PA-controlled media as someone who acts on instructions from his president and is entrusted with carrying them out.

In two separate news items, the official PA news agency Wafa reported that Shtayyeh met with his cabinet ministers and commanders of the Palestinian security forces to discuss mechanisms for implementing Abbas’s announcement on ending agreements and understandings with Israel and the US.

The re-emergence of Abbas has pushed aside speculation about the question of succession in the PA in the post-Abbas era. The issue of succession remains taboo among Palestinian officials, most of whom avoid discussing the topic in public.

Which terrorist will replace the current kleptocratic autocrat?

Palestinians often hear about Abbas’s potential successors from Israeli and Western media outlets, particularly in the absence of an open discussion on this issue in the Palestinian media.

On Monday, a former Palestinian cabinet minister dismissed rumors about a “war of succession” in the PA.

“Why does the Israeli media keep reporting about a battle of succession in the Palestinian Authority?” he retorted. “There is no battle or power struggle. Our last two presidents were elected in free elections. There will be no civil war when President Abbas is gone.”


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