The 88-year-old PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas continues the divide and rule method among Fatah leaders who are competing in the battle of succession after his departure from the political stage.
Mahmoud Abbas does not intend to retire soon from his post, but he is playing with the top Fatah officials so that they will be loyal to him until he leaves the political stage.
The position of Hussein al-Sheikh, the secretary general of the PLO’s executive committee, who was the leading candidate to succeed the chairman of the PA temporarily until after the holding of presidential elections, was undermined after a recording was leaked to the media in which he was heard defaming and cursing Mahmoud Abbas, according to senior officials in the Fatah movement, the publication of the recording severely damaged his chances of becoming the successor.
A few days ago PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced a change to Section 4 of the Palestinian General Intelligence Law from 2005, the change allows General Majed Faraj to remain in his post for an unlimited time.
The new section states that the head of general intelligence will be appointed by the chairman of the PA and his tenure will end according to the decision of the chairman of the PA regardless of the number of years he has been in office.
In addition to this, the position of the head of general intelligence is defined as a senior position in the PA, and similar to Egypt, he has the status of a minister.
The new decision of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas came as a surprise among Fatah leaders and members of the movement’s institutions and caused a lot of anger, but none of the leaders of the movement is willing to risk and openly oppose the decision.
Sources in Fatah said that General Majed Faraj has recently managed to get very close to the chairman of the PA, who was severely disappointed by his close associate Hussein al-Sheikh, and he is trying to strengthen his position in the battle for succession.
Majed Faraj was supposed to finish his post and receive an extension for one more year only, but he managed to convince the PA chairman to extend his term for an unlimited time so that he could compete in the battle of succession and in the presidential elections from a position of strength.
According to the Palestinian Basic Law, each head of a security organization in the PA will serve for only 4 years with the possibility of an extension for another six months by the parliament, but the parliament was dissolved by the central council of the PLO at the initiative of the chairman of the PLO, Mahmoud Abbas.
Majed Faraj’s term of office ended about 10 years ago, he has served in the position since 2009 and replaced Fatah senior Tawfik Al-Tirawi, before that he served as the head of military intelligence, he gained great political power due to his connections with the Israeli Shin Bet and with the CIA, he is currently considered the most powerful man in the Palestinian Authority and he sees himself as the successor of Mahmoud Abbas.
According to senior officials in the Fatah movement, the decision of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas to extend Majed Faraj’s term indefinitely is the result of a request from Israel, the Biden administration and the European Union.
The Israeli and international concern is that the chairman of the PA, whose health is not stable, may unexpectedly enter a state of medical impotence, which requires that there be a temporary successor at the top of the PA who can take office immediately, moderate Arab countries also support the candidacy of Majed Faraj as a possible successor because of his extensive security experience and his desire to maintain regional stability.
Majed Faraj is a figure that is accepted by the international and regional players, he recently participated in the security meetings initiated by the US in Aqaba and Sharm el-Sheikh and he supports the American plan of General Mike Fenzel to establish a Palestinian security force that will fight against the armed terrorist groups in the northern West Bank.
The active players today in the battle of succession are Hussein al-Sheikh, Secretary General of the PLO Working Committee, General Majed Faraj, Mahmoud Al- Al-Aloul, Vice Chairman of the Fatah Movement, Fatah Secretary General Jibril Rajoub and Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Ishtayeh.
Each of them has armed militias in the field.
It is not impossible that, in order to prevent bloodshed after the departure of Mahmoud Abbas from the political stage, the Palestinian regime will be divided between some of the senior players in the succession battle until presidential elections are held.
The move that the PA chairman has now taken is a move to express support for Majed Faraj which strengthens his position in the succession battle.