Those close to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas are going to great lengths to hide the ‎true condition of his health.‎ With his hospitalizations becoming more frequent, ‎many expect‏ ‏him to face the music, declare he is ‎unable to perform his duties and name a successor ‎or, at the very least, delegate his powers in ‎preparations for the future. ‎

Abbas was re-elected as head of the Palestine ‎Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee in early ‎May and named former Nablus ‎Governor Mahmoud Aloul as his deputy. Yet it is well-‎known that the nomination was a temporary stopgap as ‎Aloul, who lacks charisma as well as mass support ‎among the Palestinians, will be unable to stop the ‎bloody race to power when the time comes.‎

Palestinian officials expect that the battle for ‎power, in which Israel will strive not to intervene, ‎will pit members of the P.A.’s ‎‎“founders’ order” against the younger generation, as ‎well as against Fatah’s own hawkish opposition, of ‎which exiled Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan, former ‎head of the Preventive Security Force in the West ‎Bank Jibril Rajoub and head of the ‎Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence ‎Service Majid Faraj have already emerged as the front-runners.‎

In these officials’ view, the risk of chaos is ‎increasing because of the volatile involvement of ‎Dahlan’s well-funded supporters in Gaza, the Al-Aqsa ‎Martyrs Brigades, Fatah’s military wing and even ‎Hamas, which has made no secret of its desire to ‎overrun the West Bank and unite the Palestinians ‎under its rule.‎

But why does Abbas so vehemently against naming an ‎actual successor and ensuring an orderly transition ‎of power? The answer lies with the murderous ‎historical nature of the terrorist syndicate, which ‎has no clear democratic procedures and where those ‎closest to the leader may end up posing the ‎biggest threat to him. The politically weak Aloul, however, ‎poses no such threat, which is exactly why he was ‎chosen. ‎

The pantheon of aging PLO leaders still enjoys ‎credibility as they all have Jewish blood on their ‎hands, but the same can be said of Barghouti and ‎Dahlan, who also enjoy the support of some of their ‎elders as part of inter-Palestinian ploys. ‎

Overall, however, the PLO is losing its credibility ‎due to its political failures on both the global and ‎Arab arena, culminating in the relocation of the ‎U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. The PLO is also plagued ‎by massive corruption, leading to increased support ‎for Hamas, which is perceived as “corruption-free” ‎despite its defeats in Gaza. As far as many ‎Palestinians are concerned, Hamas is preferable to ‎Fatah because the corrupt PLO’s recognition of ‎Israel has done nothing to contribute to the ‎formation of a Palestinian state.‎

Palestinian intellectuals believe that failure to ‎create an agreed-upon political solution for the ‎post-Abbas era will create a power vacuum and place ‎whatever is left of the Palestinian unity in ‎unprecedented danger. In their view, chaos will ‎produce internal bloodshed and prompt terrorism ‎against Israel, which will have no choice but to ‎intervene and eliminate the remnants of that unity.‎

These intellectuals believe that this historic ‎juncture will test whether the ‎Palestinians have evolved into a people that has the political and social abilities necessary to join ‎the family of nations or whether they are still ‎little more than a corrupt terrorist syndicate.

Dr. Reuven Berko was the adviser on Arab affairs to the Jerusalem district police and a writer for Israel Hayom.