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Israel ignites war over Abbas’ successor

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas participates in the Palestinian Central Council meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)'s National Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas participates in the Palestinian Central Council meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)'s National Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

On Thursday morning, two Israeli websites, Yedioth Ahronoth and Kan, reported almost the same news about Fatah leaders storing arms and recruiting “armed gangs” in preparation for a battle for the succession of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Yedioth Ahronoth stated that, recently, the leaders of the Fatah movement began recruiting armed groups in the West Bank. These leaders consider themselves as potential candidates to be Abbas’ successors in one of the three positions, namely: the President of the Palestinian Authority, the President of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the President of the Fatah movement.

The report clarified that those leaders are the head of the Palestinian Football Association and former head of the Palestinian Preventive Security Force, Maj. Gen. Jibril Rajoub, the head of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service Maj. Gen. Majed Faraj, the deputy head of the Fatah movement Mahmoud Al-Aloul and the head of Palestinian Intelligence in the West Bank during the second intifada, Tawfiq Al-Tirawi.

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The two websites focused on identifying possible locations for weapons storage and the centres of influence for each of the leaders within the West Bank.

The websites did not mention the source of this news, and did not specify whether he is an Israeli or Palestinian, civilian or military, especially that these are sensitive security information which need intelligence sources.

However, commenting on the report published by Kan, Channel 10 political analyst, Barak Ravid, posted on his Twitter account that it sounds like a briefing by Israeli security officials. The author of the report and the analyst of Palestinian affairs in Kan, Gal Berger, did not deny this while commenting on Ravid’s statement.

As for the scenarios of the succession of Abbas, they ranged between an agreement on sharing power between Fatah leaders, or a struggle between the leaders of Fatah that will amount to violent clashes and chaos in the streets.

The report stresses that the only beneficiary of these clashes is Hamas, “which will reinforce its position in the West Bank and gather it forces while Fatah leaders are fighting.”

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