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February 2013

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After Abbas
Jonathan Schanzar, Foundation for Defense of Democracy
Reviewed by Norvell DeAtkine

With media attention to a recent leftward turn in Israeli elections and continuing international pressure on Israel to come to terms with a Palestinian State, a casual observer would think that peace depends only Israel. As Dr. Schanzar, who got his start a policy analyst at Daniel Pipes Middle East Forum, makes clear, that is very deceiving.

One of the prime determinants of peace will be what sort of Palestinian state is Israel’s neighbor. Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the West Bank Palestinian entity is 77 years old, a heavy smoker, and in poor health. No successor has been designated, and Abbas has taken steps to make sure that no viable successor appears.

The one individual most likely is Aziz Dweik, speaker of the Palestinian Authority Council and a Hamas member. Although it is by no means certain, the author sees Hamas stepping into the void. Abbas, clinging to power with money and security forces trained by the United States, presiding over a corrupt and unpopular government, has set the stage for a Hamas takeover. This would ostensibly bring together, under one ruling clique, the Palestinian entities of Gaza and the Palestinian, though the usual Palestinian propensity for in-fighting does not assure this. One thing most likely is that, despite recent optimism for renewed negotiations for a permanent Israeli-Palestinian accord, the prospect of such a union makes peace less likely.

A slender reed of hope comes with the election of some new faces in the recent West bank municipal elections. A New York Times article identified them as secularist and independent of the Abbas apparatus. Even so, hoping for any successor Palestinian government that is amenable to compromise with Israel and able to sell peace to its own people is, at this point, unrealistic. Schanzar wrote that only U.S. and international pressure on Abbas to name a successor and establish a foundation for good governance can rectify the present situation and reinforce the hope of peace.bluestar

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