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'Beginning of the end of Abbas' rule' say Israel security officials

With the ill health of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas continuing to be a source of speculation, a report in Haaretz claims that Israeli security officials already see recent events "as the beginning of the end of Abbas' rule, although it is not clear how long the whole process will take".

Abbas, 82, was hospitalised once again this week, and there are suggestions that the true seriousness of his condition is being kept under wraps by Palestinian Authority (PA) officials.

According to the Haaretz report, written by its military correspondent Amos Harel, "in the frenzied atmosphere that has taken hold on the Israeli right…there will probably be calls to take advantage of the situation and make unilateral changes to the relationship with the PA in the West Bank."

However, he added, "leading security officials say that, on the contrary, security coordination with Abbas and his people is a strategic asset that must be carefully maintained with Abbas' successor (or successors)."

Open letter to President Mahmoud Abbas

Elaborating on this view, Harel claimed that "absent a permanent solution or any diplomatic talks on the horizon, security connections with the PA help prevent deterioration on the ground."

"Witness the dozens of cases in which PA security operatives have, in keeping with Abbas' policy, returned Israeli citizens who mistakenly entered Palestinian towns or cities," he continued.

"The PA also continues, for its own reasons, to arrest Hamas activists, some of whom are involved in planning terror attacks against Israel," Harel added.

According to the report, the Israeli intelligence community believes the most likely scenario post-Abbas is that he "will be replaced, at least temporarily, by a group that could include senior Fatah leaders, officials with diplomatic experience and representatives of the security agencies".

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