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West Bank leader Mahmoud Abbas turns 81 amid jockeying for his job

March 26, 2016 - PALESTINIAN TERRITORY

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas turns 81, a timely age to retire. The PA has dismissed rumours that he is considering an exit, but his advanced age and the parlous state of Palestinian affairs means that an exit might be pressed on him.

Particularly if Abbas shows frailty, Hamas might try to seize West Bank control. After the Gaza war, Hamas' numbers shot up in Palestinian polls

Most sources see Marwan Barghouti, serving multiple life terms in an Israeli prison, elected by a wide margin. Al-Monitor notes that a Palestinian leader elected by a large majority who enjoys widespread international support and is sitting in an Israeli prison would create a Nelson Mandela-like political nightmare for Tel Aviv. The publication also noted in Aug 2015 that Israel lacks a 'day after Abbas' plan.

Foreign Policy magazine puts Mohammad Dahlan in the frame as one of several men trying to offer themselves as alternatives to Abbas. Dahlan, once an Abbas confidant, who now lives in the United Arab Emirates, was ejected in 2011 from Fatah, the West Bank's ruling party headed by Abbas.

The magazine also sees former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the picture as a possible successor, and describes him as a darling of the international community. He is a United States-trained economist and former International Monetary Fund staffer who is known for his mammoth efforts to reform the PA.

How Long Can Mahmoud Abbas Hold On? (Foreign Policy 16 Jan 2015)

Palestinian bid for statehood (Telegraph 23 Sep 2011)

Israel lacks 'day after Abbas' plan (Al-Monitor 6 Aug 2015)

Date written/update: 2015-08-19