Palestinian politics after Abbas: institutional and constitutional challenges

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is 81 years old, has publicly stated his intention not to compete again in elections and has appointed no successor. Given the state of the Palestinian system as well as increasing frustration with the PA and the moribund peace process with Israel, a chaotic battle for succession – one that is already underway – is the most likely scenario for the post-Abbas era.



Our new Strategic Assessment, the first in a two-part series, provides a comprehensive analysis of the current state of Palestinian politics and the possible candidates to succeed Abbas. Part two examines different strategic options for the Palestinians in the post-Abbas period, including the long term viability of the PA and future security coordination with Israel.


Key points:

  • The Palestinian succession battle is already underway. PA President Mahmoud Abbas is unlikely to name a deputy or relinquish power in the near future.
  • The constitutional mechanism for succession is likely to be set aside and the odds strongly favour Abbas’s successor emerging from within the Fatah party’s ranks, absent elections.
  • Amid the succession crisis, Fatah is subject to internal crises. The absence of internal elections and failure to address the growing generational divide threatens the party’s future as a leader of the Palestinian national movement.
  • The likelihood that a drawn out succession crisis may destabilise the West Bank, possibly resulting in the collapse of the PA, is of growing concern to Israel, Egypt, and Jordan.
  • The end of the Abbas-era likely marks the end of the rule of the traditional, “Tunis-based” political leadership. Those who subsequently assume leadership of the PA and of the PLO will be forced to contend with a constituency that has grown disillusioned with the promises of the Oslo process and many of the contenders espouse policies at odds with those calling for the sides to reach a negotiated final-status agreement establishing two states.

Download the full Strategic Assessment below.

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