Meet Mahmoud al-Aloul, the Man Poised to Succeed Mahmoud Abbas

March 9, 2018 | Grant Rumley

The veteran terrorist Mahmoud al-Aloul, known also as Abu Jihad, is the first person ever to hold the position of deputy chairman of the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah faction, and is generally considered Mahmoud Abbas’s handpicked successor as PA president—although whether he will actually be able to take power is anyone’s guess. Having been involved with the Palestinian national movement since the 1960s, Aloul distanced himself from terrorism after the second intifada. Grant Rumley, who interviewed him in December, writes:

Days after we met in his office, Aloul went on television to declare all forms of resistance—both violent and non-violent—to be legitimate responses to President Trump’s speech recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He has since walked back those comments, insisting that his preferred methods are non-violent, but his rhetoric sets him apart from the other Palestinian politicians who have risen in the court of Abbas. Indeed, as a former mobilizer for Fatah, Aloul, who never participated in peace talks, is more connected to the people than many in Ramallah.

Aloul is not nearly as wedded as Abbas to diplomacy, nor is he afraid to embrace positions that Abbas typically avoids. Most noticeably, he has long been skeptical of the peace process. . . . To that end, Aloul has urged Palestinians to take to the streets. This resonates with a majority of Palestinians, who are increasingly dissatisfied with Abbas for his prioritization of the security relationship with Israel over [so-called] “popular protests.” At least part of Abbas’s wariness about public unrest is due to his fear that the Palestinian street may turn against the Ramallah leadership, a fear Aloul acknowledges. . . .

Perhaps Aloul’s biggest break with his leader is in his willingness to entertain, and even support, the one-state movement. An increasing number of young Palestinians have called on their leadership to abandon the traditional Oslo peace process in favor of a binational state—a euphemism for the demographic destruction of the Jewish-majority state in Israel.

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