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
"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
"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."