At present, the issue of change in the Palestinian Authority is hypothetical.
Mahmoud Abbas shows no sign of either abdicating or designating a successor, and no gumption to take a leap forwards on either the issue of Israel as the state of the Jewish people or the right of return.
In the longer term, of course, an alliance between pragmatists such as Jibril Rajoub, the former head of preventive security in the West Bank, and Majid al-Faraj, the chief of general intelligence (provided they prevail over other candidates), could pave the way for a Jordanian-Palestinian federation, which is the only feasible option for the inhabitants of the P.A.
Rajoub and Faraj share a common security background, and have both cooperated with the Israeli security structure. They share a commitment to governance at the expense of ideology, as well as a mutual hostility to Hamas, particularly to Mohammed Dahlan and jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who would be their chief rivals for Abbas’s mantle.
The succession will entail conflict and instability. Consolidation will initially take priority over peacemaking.
Instability might have its virtues, as the more unstable the situation, the more palatable a federation between Jordan and the P.A. will become.
Hillel Frisch is a professor of political studies and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University, and a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.
BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family.