France is looking for a successor to the PA chairman

French President Macron is looking for a successor to PA Chairman Abu Mazen so that he can break the political impasse in the Palestinian Israeli track. France, the friend of the Palestinians, also understands that Abu Mazen has finished his role and that his continued sitting on the chair of the PA means political stagnation.

According to sources in the Fatah movement, there is great anger at the top of the PA towards French President Emmanuel Macron following an article published on February 12 in the French newspaper Le Figaro in which it was reported that the French president is looking for a successor to 87 years old PA chairman Abu Mazen.

A senior Fatah official says that this is French insolence and interference in the internal affairs of the Palestinians and that Abu Mazen’s successor will be democratically elected by the Palestinian people in general presidential elections.

According to the report in the French newspaper, French President Macron is looking for a successor to the chairman of the PA because he wants to change some things related to the stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian track and that he asked two French diplomats and French intelligence to prepare a list of Palestinians who could be the successors to the chairman of the PA Abu Mazen.

The chairman of the PA, who has been in his position since 2005, clings to his seat and postpones any possible presidential and parliamentary elections for fear of personal loss for himself and the Fatah movement he heads.

A French diplomatic source close to the French president said that he was asked to think which Palestinian figure might be the man of the hour and of such Palestinian personalities who have new ideas to get out of the current state of paralysis, according to him he suggested names from inside and outside the Palestinian institutions.

The leak to the Le Figueroa newspaper indicates that even in France, as in Israel and the Biden administration, they understand very well that the end of PA Chairman Abu Mazen’s rule is approaching and that preparations should be made accordingly.

The test that France made indirectly with some independent Palestinian personalities regarding the possibility that they would run for the position of PA chairman failed, they refused, they were afraid of entering the Palestinian political arena.

France knows very well that no Palestinian personality can compete for the post of PA chairman without a green light from Israel and the US and the consent of Egypt and Jordan, any name proposed by France requires first and foremost Israeli American consent.

France supports the PA and the two-state solution and President Macron wants to break the political deadlock and aims to present a new French initiative that will allow the election of a new leadership that can fulfill the vision of establishing an independent Palestinian state, he also understands that the current Chairman of the PA has brought the negotiations with Israel to a standstill. A deadlock that has been going on for several years and the end of which is not in sight.

President Macron is showing a certain naivety, even if a successor to the PA chairman is found who will be suitable in his opinion, he will have a very difficult time uniting the Palestinians in light of the deep social and political division within them.

Since Hamas forcibly took over the Gaza Strip in 2007 and until today, all attempts to unite the Palestinians have failed.

Palestinian public opinion polls indicate a dangerous trend, 70 percent of the residents of the territories oppose the two-state solution and support an armed struggle against Israel.

One of the main problems is that PA Chairman Abu Mazen is not going anywhere, despite his advanced age, he is sure that he will live for a long time and has no intention of stepping down from the political stage anytime soon, Abu Mazen has previously rejected several American and European requests to appoint him a deputy in order to train him as his possible successor, he adopts a policy of divide and rule at the top of the Fatah movement and create conflicts between all those who see themselves as his possible successors.

French President Macron is trying to think outside the box, but the Fatah and Hamas movements will not agree to accept a Palestinian candidate who is not active and is known to the Palestinian public to run in the elections. Recently, European ideas have again been heard to return Muhammad Dahlan or Dr. Salam Fayad to the center of the Palestinian political arena.

The French failed in electing a president for Lebanon and they do not have a successful reputation in the Middle East as those who specialize in electing Arab leaders, even if presidential elections are announced in the territories, PA chairman Abu Mazen intends to run in it and it is impossible to prevent him from doing so.

It seems that French President Emmanuel Macron’s frustration will continue for a long time, PA Chairman Abu Mazen intends to remain on the Palestinian political stage for a long time, he is the one who controls the PA and PLO finances and the Fatah movement which is the ruling party, he does not intend to hold elections because all the signs indicate that the Hamas movement will win the elections, Israel is not interested in that and neither is the Biden administration.

President Macron’s ideas about democratic presidential elections in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are liberal ideas but not realistic at the moment, because their implementation would mean a certain victory for an extremist terrorist movement working on behalf of Iran, which opposes the 2-state solution and advocates the destruction of Israel.

The continuation of PA Chairman Abu Mazen’s rule is currently the least dangerous option from a security and political point of view, but one must prepare for unexpected developments in the event that he naturally disappears from the political arena, his health is not good and the clock has already started ticking towards the zero hour.

Yoni Ben Menachem Senior Middle East Analyst

About Yoni Ben Menachem

Yoni Ben Menachem is a Middle East senior analyst ,a journalist and
the former CEO of the Israel Broadcasting Authority(IBA). He has
decades of experience in written and video journalism. Ben
Menachem’s path in the media world began as a producer for
Japanese television in the Middle East. After that, he held many key
positions in the media The Israeli: CEO of the Israel Broadcasting
Authority, director of “Kol Israel” Radio, reporter on West Bank and
Gaza Strip affairs, political reporter and commentator, commentator
on Middle East affairs and editor-in-chief and presenter of the
program “Middle East Magazine”. 

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