“Authority,” the nineteenth century British poet Alfred Lord Tennyson once wrote, “forgets a dying king.” Few would describe Mahmoud Abbas, the obese, 87-year-old autocrat who rules the Palestinian Authority (PA), as “kingly.” Indeed, the Soviets reportedly used the code name “Mole” to describe his stolid, bespectacled figure. But there is little question that Abbas’s power is ebbing and that the PA’s control over the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) is slipping.
Abbas is currently in the eighteenth year of a single, elected four-year term. The aging kleptocrat is deeply unpopular. So, for that matter, is the PA that he leads. Those who care about both Israel’s security and American national interests should begin to think about scenarios that might unfold should Abbas depart, either from office or from this mortal coil. Iran and Hamas, among others, hope to gain from a succession struggle.
The PA was born out of the Oslo Peace Process that began three decades ago. It was created to provide Palestinians with limited self-rule in exchange for promises from then-Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat that they would renounce terrorism and resolve outstanding issues with Israel bilaterally.
The PA was not created to give Palestinian Arabs a state, as then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin made clear. Rather, it was, to use a phrase popular at the time, a “chance for peace.”
Yet, that chance has been given and Palestinian leadership has been found wanting.
(Read the rest of CAMERA’s essay in the Spring 2023 Edition of Jewish Policy Center’s InFocus Magazine)