A Palestinian Human-Rights Activist Reflects on Two Decades of Mahmoud Abbas’s Rule

January 9 marked the nineteenth anniversary of Mahmoud Abbas’s election to a four-year term as president of the Palestinian Authority. Since then, no new presidential elections have taken place, and the eighty-seven-year-old Abbas has taken no substantive steps to establish a peaceful transfer of power in the event of his death. Bassam Eid explains how this situation came about, and considers how Palestinians might gain their freedom:

In 1993, the peace-seeking Israeli government handed governance of the Palestinian residents in Gaza and the West Bank to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), a notorious terrorist organization that was known to be responsible for the murder of Israeli Olympic athletes and of schoolchildren, and the hijacking of cruise ships and planes. . . . In 2000 and again in 2001, the Israeli government made generous permanent peace offers that would have created an independent Palestinian state in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. Instead, Arafat opted for war. . . . After those bloody years, the world largely breathed a sigh of relief when Arafat slipped this mortal coil and left power in the hands of longtime deputy Mahmoud Abbas.

Relief didn’t last long. Although Abbas was elected to a full term which began in 2005, and legislative elections were held in 2006, no further elections for any branch of government have been held since that time.

Over 2 million Palestinians live under the tyrannical power of Abbas’s PA in the West Bank, including me and many of the people I care most about. Abbas is the real occupier of our cities and our homeland, not our future partner Israel, which has consistently had a majority in favor of peace and not Benjamin Netanyahu, a leader who has explicitly supported the idea of a Palestinian state so long as Israel maintains the necessary security controls.

Abbas has offered us neither democracy nor independence, but we remain a free people. It is time for the Palestinian nation to reach a new agreement with Israel and the international community, abolishing the dictatorial rule of Abbas and the PLO and instead granting our people what we truly deserve: peace with dignity alongside our neighbor, the Jewish state of Israel.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Arab democracy, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinians, PLO

Iran’s President May Be Dead. What Next?

At the moment, Hizballah’s superiors in Tehran probably aren’t giving much thought to the militia’s next move. More likely, they are focused on the fact that their country’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, along with the foreign minister, may have been killed in a helicopter crash near the Iran-Azerbaijan border. Iranians set off fireworks to celebrate the possible death of this man known as “butcher of Tehran” for his role in executing dissidents. Shay Khatiri explains what will happen next:

If the president is dead or unable to perform his duties for longer than two months, the first vice-president, the speaker of the parliament, and the chief justice, with the consent of the supreme leader, form a council to choose the succession mechanism. In effect, this means that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will decide [how to proceed]. Either a new election is called, or Khamenei will dictate that the council chooses a single person to avoid an election in time of crisis.

Whatever happens next, however, Raisi’s “hard landing” will mark the first chapter in a game of musical chairs that will consume the Islamic Republic for months and will set the stage not only for the post-Raisi era, but the post-Khamenei one as well.

As for the inevitable speculation that Raisi’s death wasn’t an accident: everything I have read so far suggests that it was. Still, that its foremost enemy will be distracted by a succession struggle is good news for Israel. And it wouldn’t be terrible if Iran’s leaders suspect that the Mossad just might have taken out Raisi. For all their rhetoric about martyrdom, I doubt they relish the prospect of becoming martyrs themselves.

Read more at Middle East Forum

More about: Ali Khamenei, Iran, Mossad