On March 13, the Palestinian Authority’s Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and its security chief Majid Faraj were in the Gaza Strip on the first visit by high-ranking West Bank officials since the 2007 Hamas takeover. They were greeted with an assassination attempt. To Eran Lerman, the incident seems like a portent of the violent struggle for succession that is likely to follow the death of the aging, and possibly very ill, Mahmoud Abbas:
The attempt to assassinate both Faraj and Hamdallah in Gaza can serve as a rude wake-up call to all who expected the transition period to be orderly. . . .
[A]t the political level, what we end up facing in Ramallah is a weak, divided leadership driven to radical positions by internal rivalries. (Although it’s worth noting that this is what everyone thought would happen in Egypt when Sadat took over in 1970.) There does not seem to be much that Israel or the U.S. can do to reach a better outcome, and no number of sweeteners thrown in by the American government, as it puts the final touches on an administration peace plan, will bring about a different outcome. The “deal of the century” may therefore need to wait . . . until a younger, more effective, and more flexible generation takes over at key positions and can honestly look at the necessary compromises.
Until then, what Israel will need to apply—both in the West Bank and vis-à-vis Gaza—is a sobering dose of sophisticated conflict management. It would be best if Israel would avoid provocative political actions such as partial annexations. Meanwhile, the U.S. administration should focus on shoring up the Palestinian security forces, and on making the rising crop of younger Palestinian [leaders] acutely aware of what they can legitimately expect (a workable two-state solution with territorial contiguity) and what they can’t (total withdrawal with minimal swaps, the majority of settlers uprooted, some recognition of the “right of return,” carving up the living city of Jerusalem). This would establish a new paradigm for a new generation of leaders.
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