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Thursday, January 27, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Israeli intelligence: Palestinian Authority lacks younger generation leaders to replace Abbas

JERUSALEM — Israeli officials have determined that the Palestinian Authority was unable to decide on a successor to chairman Mahmoud Abbas.


Officials said the intelligence community has concluded that Abbas does not have any successor either within the PA or the ruling Fatah movement. They said Abbas, who repeatedly pledged to resign, has refused to groom a successor in fear that this would pave the way for his immediate removal.

"There is no young generation of leaders," Israel Security Agency director Yuval Diskin said.

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In testimony on Jan. 18 to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Diskin said the stalemate within the PA leadership has also led to the weakening of Fatah. Diskin said Fatah has been divided and cannot decide on a successor to the 75-year-old Abbas, whose term of office expired in January 2010.

"There is no natural leader who is accepted by everyone, and therefore the forces prefer that he remain in the arena," Diskin said.

Over the last month, Abbas penalized a leading Fatah operative who sought to debate PA policies. Abbas accused former PA security chief Mohammed Dahlan of planning a coup and forced him into exile in neighboring Jordan.

"Abbas' leadership is even more significant today," Diskin said.

The intelligence community assessment was that Abbas was avoiding major decisions in both domestic and foreign policy, particularly regarding Israel. Officials said Abbas has not decided whether to embrace a proposal by Prime Minister Salam Fayad for a unilateral Palestinian state by 2012.

"This process is gaining momentum because the Palestinians have identified the gaps between Israel and the United States," Diskin said. "If no progress is made [in Israeli-PA peace talks] they will turn to the United Nations in September and say 'We have the mechanisms necessary to gain recognition as a state.' This will place us in a difficult spot."

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