, in addition to his political position as Secretary General of the PLO Executive Committee after exclusion of Yasir ‘Abd Rabbo.
Moreover, he is likely to receive more organizational support from ‘Abbas in the coming stage on one hand, and the backing of important segment of Fatah who would want the Secretary General of the PLO Executive Committee to assume the position of the president in case of vacancy on another hand. This might be facilitated through resignations from the Executive Committee that were provided in August 2015.
Although there is constitutional frame for the political succession, Article 37 of the Basic Law, whereby “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,” the traditions of commitment to constitutional provisions in Palestinian political history are not enough to predict commitment this time. This is especially that the current Speaker Aziz Dweik is a Hamas affiliate while the parliament is almost paralyzed and the Central Council of the PLO lacks participation from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
2. The problem with Fatah and Erekat in particular lies in the fact that both of them are not in harmony with the historical trend (adoption of armed resistance and the Palestinian fundamentals), which might mean the outbreak of a revolution within Fatah where youthful cadres from al-Aqsa Brigades or other factions might rise to compete with the current leadership and oppose the settlement track. Such a movement might find support from historical leaders in Fatah such as Faruq al-Qaddumi and other Palestinian factions including Hamas, PIJ and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), besides regional support from some forces. Such a prospect is enhanced by the failure of Fatah in student elections in Birzeit in April 2015, which caused a moral shock within the Movement.
3. Based on the above, it is not possible to exclude the possibility of an inter-Fatah conflict (after ‘Abbas), especially that the Movement includes several currents undergoing tensed relations as was revealed in the recent conflict between their leaderships leading to violent confrontations. Some may seek help from the occupation and regional and international forces to enhance the interests of each trend.
4. Based on the aforementioned, the role of the “historical trend” (armed resistance and fundamentals) becomes clear, as it opens the way for other forces clinging on to these two dimensions, especially Hamas and PIJ. Yet, these two movements would not be allowed by the occupation or by regional powers, particularly Arab states, and international powers, to play such a role unless they could find a supportive base outside the occupied territories. This would ultimately mean diminishing the role of internal leadership for the benefit of outside leadership and the return of the PA to exile, or complete transfer to Gaza Strip[, which means a complete change in the scene related to the PA.
Second: The Palestinian State
Ignoring the lack of spatial embodiment of the Palestinian state, what remains is only the “state project” recognized legally by the UN and most of the contemporary international community. Nonetheless, the political boundaries of this state are still subject to “negotiation,” which means that it is the post-’Abbas PA which will define the geographic boundaries of the state.
Thus, if authority is assumed by Oslo players (from Fatah), negotiations would extend over another period of time accompanied with continued settlement expansion in the WB and the Judaization of Jerusalem. However, if authority is assumed by Palestinian leadership, especially in exile, by those holding on to the historical trend, the project of the Palestinian state will be subject, on the legal level, to huge diplomatic pressures, and the balance of international, regional and Palestinian forces would be the decisive factor in determining the future status, an issue that needs detailed study (the possibilities of shifts in balance of internal, regional and international powers).
This means that the Palestinian dilemma will be in the emergence of a leadership that would proceed with futile negotiations with continued settlement construction, or the emergence of a new leadership that holds on to the historical trend (resistance and fundamentals) while having to face immense international and regional pressures.
Third: The Palestinian Society
While authority is the political manifestation of the will of the society and mechanisms of its organization, and the state is the legal representation of the material presence in the international society, society is their subject. Thus there is a need to observe the extent of the society’s clinging to the historical trend (resistance and fundamentals) in defining who rules where.
Notwithstanding the difficulties appertaining to geography, resources, as well as international and regional environment, it is possible to consider the Gaza Strip (GS), with its leadership and the majority of its society, as the actual embodiment of the historical trend, which has contributed –besides other factors– to liberating this Palestinian geography. Accordingly, the Palestinian society will face 4 models:
a. A Palestinian society most of which tends to adopt the current Gaza Model.
b. A Palestinian society most of which tends to adopt the WB Model as in its current situation.
c. The continuation of the current geographic division during the coming period (5 years).
d. The complete reoccupation of both regions by the Israeli forces.
The Palestinian Society outside Palestine
The Palestinian society outside Palestine, especially in neighboring countries, represents an environment which embraces all Palestinian organizations. However, “political turmoil” in the Arab environment since the end of 2010 has diminished (even if temporarily) the margin of action for some factions, especially Hamas. While the Palestinian society within Palestine is more submissive to the PA, it is more able, outside Palestine –especially in neighboring countries, to “resist” the policies of Palestinian factions due to objective conditions surrounding both sides (the society and the factions). This, ultimately, allows regional environment to have an impact on the structure and orientations of Palestinian factions abroad.
Interaction of the Three Dimensions (Authority, State and Society)
The previous analysis shows that the possible scenarios for the three dimensions involve a number of points each of which merits separate study to understand their possible repercussions:
First: The Authority
The related scenarios are:
1. The continuation of the Oslo negotiations track.
2. Conflict within Fatah.
3. Transfer of leadership to Hamas.
4. PA dissolution.
5. Transfer of leadership to outside Palestine.
6. Transfer of leadership headquarters to GS.
Second: The State
Related scenarios include:
1. Expansion of areas subject to the PA.
2. The Israeli authorities minimize the PA regions for security reasons.
3. The continuation of the current duality of GS and the WB.
4. The complete reoccupation of the 1967 territories.
Third: The Palestinian Society (At Home and Abroad)
Related scenarios are:
1. Growth of the trend holding on to resistance and fundamentals.
2. Backing away from resistance and Palestinian fundamentals.
3. The increased difference in orientations between the GS and WB.
4. Drowning in a state of chaos and increased wave of immigration from Palestine.
Given the huge complications in the Palestinian scene, every point related to the authority, state and society, needs separate study which is beyond the scope of this assessment. In addition, the interaction between previous clashing indicators demands the following:
1. The formation of a research team to study international and regional transformations in the next five years, whether the transformations that enhance the growth of the resistance current and fundamentals or those that augment the advancement of the current embracing abandonment of resistance and fundamentals. It is also necessary to work on the possible ways for enhancing the former transformations and weakening the latter ones as it is most probable for the Zionist movement to invest the current wave of international war against “terrorism,” especially religious terrorism, in order to include Hamas and PIJ in this context. This might put the GS in an extremely complicated situation, especially with the current state of brusqueness between GS and neighboring Arab environment.
2. Putting the Palestinian house in order according to well-established legislative and executive structures, which respect organizational work and effectively practice it, without being susceptible to persons’ resignation or death.
3. Resistance factions and forces holding on to fundamentals have to communicate with all national powers to enhance this trend, including those who focus on resistance within Fatah.
4. It is probable for hostility towards Zionism to increase in international public opinion as a continuation to a development that started since the first Intifadah and continued in al-Aqsa Intifadah, and is still growing. This issue is worth of attention and care from resistance forces, which need to work on developing it.
5. It seems that the trend of US retreat from the Arab region will continue, albeit slowly and waveringly, along with the growth of role of China, Russia, and some European powers. This means the need of the resistance and fundamentals current to address the policies of these major emerging powers with extreme care and political realism.
6. To not get involved in internal Arab issues and to pursue objective and clearly neutral positions regarding these issues.
 It is known that the international and regional environment played a major role in carrying ‘Abbas to the center of Palestinian decision making despite great hesitance of Yasir ‘Arafat, as it appears in US President Bush speech on 24/6/2002, which mainly focused on this point. For full speech, Click Here
 Despite several statements expressing his unwillingness to assume the position, Click Here
 Abbas and nine members of the PLO Executive Council tendered their resignation.
 See the orientations of international public opinion in Al-Zaytouna’s annual Palestinian Strategic Report, from 2010 till present (Chapters of the international situation).
* Al-Zaytouna Centre thanks Dr. Walid ‘Abdul Hay for authoring the original text upon which this strategic assessment was based.
The Arabic version of this Assessment was published on 7/10/2015