After Abbas: A Succession Crisis Is Looming Over Palestinian Politics

After Abbas: A Succession Crisis Is Looming Over Palestinian Politics
Protesters carry pictures of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a rally supporting Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike in Israeli jails, Ramallah, West Bank, May 3, 2017 (AP photo by Nasser Nasser).

When Mahmoud Abbas was re-elected as the head of Fatah at the party’s seventh congress late last year, the now 82-year-old president of the Palestinian Authority succeeded in affirming not only his 12-year grip on power, but his unquestioned supremacy within Palestinian politics.

After years of purging his political opposition, the gathering was absent any members of Fatah that were not loyalists of the president. At the time, Abbas heralded it as “a congress for developing and getting to national unity.”

Yet the real goal of the congress wasn’t to unite behind Abbas. It was to resolve the lingering issue of who will succeed him, which has become more pronounced with each passing month and each trip to the hospital for the aging leader. Needless to say, on that count, the congress was a failure and a missed opportunity.

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