Israeli officials are increasingly concerned about President Abbas’s health and the consequences for stability in the Palestinian Authority.
Writing in Haaretz, Amos Harel said that details about Abbas’ health have been shared with Israeli political and security officials amid concerns that, “although security cooperation between Israel and the PA continues to be managed well, Israel is readying itself for the possibility that a continued worsening of Abbas’ health will intensify the succession wars in the PA and undermine the relative stability that now prevails in the West Bank.”
After his speech to the UN Security Council Abbas was treated at a Baltimore hospital for what his officials described as a “routine medical check up”. Abbas will be 83 this month. His last major operation was 20 years ago when he was treated for prostate cancer. Palestinian officials said the results of recent tests were “positive and reassuring,” yet unconfirmed reports in Palestinian and Arab media outlets declared that Abbas’s condition has suffered a “major setback” in recent weeks. “The president doesn’t get enough sleep and that’s why he looks very tired,” said a senior PA official, who refused to comment further on the negative reports about Abbas’s health.
Last week, Abbas reportedly told members of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, the second most important Fatah decision-making body after the Fatah Central Committee, that Mahmoud al-Aloul was his preferred candidate to succeed him as Chairman of Fatah.
Palestinian Basic Law states that, were Abbas to die or leave office, his position would be filled by the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) until elections could be held. The current Speaker of the PLC is Hamas member Aziz Dweik.