The race for the Palestinian leadership is heating up

Amid talks on post-Hamas Gaza, power struggle brews in Ramallah for PA leadership; various contenders eye chairman's spot, with Western and Arab states having preferences, yet Abbas seeks to appoint his own successor

As the IDF dismantles Hamas' military capabilities in the Gaza Strip, and senior members of the terror organization lose their grip on power, the world is eagerly anticipating the "day after" plan, which includes a revamped Palestinian Authority, perceived as less corrupt by Western nations.
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In Ramallah, a fierce struggle ensues over the future leadership of the Palestinian Authority, involving prominent figures and those who see themselves as heirs to its 88-year-old chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, who appears reluctant to relinquish his position easily.
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אבו מאזן
אבו מאזן
Mahmoud Abbas
(Photo: AFP)
The battle for the role of PA chairman, frankly, began even before the war and as the West attempts to initiate reform within the PA and crown a potential successor, it has intensified, involving new personalities and diverse agendas.
For instance, the secretary-general of Fatah's Executive Committee, Hussein al-Sheikh, was all but certain he'd inherit the top job as Abbas' closest confidant but now faces new challenges following the American request for a shakeup of the PA, which also encompasses the Gaza Strip.
On Wednesday, Al-Sheikh revealed to Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat the characteristics of the common Arab vision, aimed at a comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue. He also noted "positive signs" aiding preparation for a meeting between Fatah and Hamas with the goal of "organizing the Palestinian house, uniting its stance and addressing the consequences of the war." Al-Sheikh further stated to the newspaper that "what determines the priorities of our political activity with our Arab brothers and the international community is stopping the war."
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חוסיין א-שייח
חוסיין א-שייח
Hussein al-Sheikh
As for developments between the Palestinian Authority and the international community, against the backdrop of five meetings held with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Al-Sheikh expressed regret that "we still sometimes hear nice words from the American government, but its action is not effective." According to him, the results of these U.S. positions "do not amount to real and serious pressure on the Israeli government to stop the war."
Additionally, the economic situation in the PA is becoming increasingly dire following the halt of tax revenue transfers from Israel. Jerusalem has withheld hundreds of millions of shekels intended for Gaza, leading to a partial transfer of funds. The Palestinian leadership has refused to accept the reduced funds in protest.
It appears that Western nations, particularly the United States and Britain, favor Mohammed Dahlan—an exiled former PA security chief in Gaza—as Abbas’ potential successor.
Dahlan, known for his moderate views and close ties to the rulers of the United Arab Emirates, told The New York Times this week in an interview that “the leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates are open to supporting processes that are part of efforts leading to a Palestinian state.”
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 מוחמד דחלאן בראיון לערוץ האימראתי  אל-משהד
 מוחמד דחלאן בראיון לערוץ האימראתי  אל-משהד
Mohammed Dahlan
Dahlan reserved, however, that while expressing readiness "to assist and unite," and he has no intention of usurping Abbas. Furthermore, he asserts that "neither Abbas nor Hamas" will helm the reinvigorated Palestinian Authority—a stance likely aimed at appealing to Western and moderate Arab nations.
On the other hand, according to PA sources, Abbas is already preparing to establish a new government led by Mohammad Mustafa, an economist close to him, as part of the "day after" plan that he has already arranged.
The Americans offered Abbas, among other things, a symbolic position of "honorary president," but he refused. The PA chairman wants to crown his own successor, despite the poor reputation of the PA and his Fatah faction, considered corrupt and disconnected from the Palestinian people. However, prominent Fatah figures are calling on Hamas leadership to join Fatah to be partners in the new PA, but the terrorist organization refuses to submit to their terms.
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