Debate and speculation among Palestinians over who will succeed the Palestinian president have suddenly intensified. Foreign journalists and diplomats are instantly drawn to the topic. Leaks from those in President Abbas’ inner circle that he will resign, and the replacement of Yasser Abed Rabbo with Saeb Erekat as secretary general of the executive committee of the PLO have fed the discussion.
The main questions are, what would be the process of succession and will it be smooth? Moreover, which one of the various Palestinian leaders has the best chances of succeeding President Mahmoud Abbas?
In my view, there are powerful reasons to believe that there will be no successor to the current president. In fact, President Abbas is likely to be the final president of the Palestinian Authority as we know it.
The Palestinian constitution provides for succession through elections. The second point of Article 37 of Palestinian basic law is very clear in this regard. It stipulates that, “If the office of the President of the National Authority becomes vacant […], the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council shall temporarily assume the powers and duties of the Presidency of the National Authority for a period not to exceed sixty (60) days, during which free and direct elections to elect a new President shall take place in accordance with the Palestinian Election Law.”
There are powerful reasons to believe that there will be no successor to the current presidentDr. Ghassan Khatib