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Policy Forum

How the Contest to Succeed Abbas Is Shaping Palestinian Options

Ghaith al-Omari, Ehud Yaari, and Michael Herzog

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June 30, 2020

Watch as experts explore how the lack of clarity surrounding a potential successor to the Palestinian Authority's 84-year-old leader defines the course of Palestinian politics.

For years now, Palestinian politics have been dominated by officials maneuvering for the day after President Mahmoud Abbas leaves the scene, with the eighty-four-year-old leader insistently preventing the emergence of clear successors. At a time of potential Israeli annexations, eroding bilateral relations, pandemic-related economic challenges, and a deepening PA legitimacy deficit, the lack of clarity surrounding his replacement only heightens the existing concerns about potential instability in the West Bank.

To discuss succession scenarios, contenders, and implications, The Washington Institute hosted a virtual Policy Forum with Ghaith al-Omari, Ehud Yaari, and Michael Herzog. The conversation will be moderated by Institute senior fellow David Makovsky.

Ghaith al-Omari, a senior fellow in the Institute's Levy Family Program on the U.S.-Israel Strategic Relationship, served as an advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team during the 1999-2001 permanent-status talks. Together with Ehud Yaari, he coauthored the recent Institute study "Palestinian Politics After Abbas."

Ehud Yaari is a Lafer International Fellow with the Institute and coauthor of the books Israel's Lebanon War, Intifada, and The Year of the Dove. He currently works as a Middle East commentator for Israel's Channel 12 television.

Michael Herzog, a retired brigadier general in the Israel Defense Forces, is the Institute's Milton Fine International Fellow. Over the past decade, he has held senior positions in the office of Israel's defense minister under Ehud Barak, Amir Peretz, Shaul Mofaz, and Binyamin Ben-Eliezer.

The Policy Forum series is made possible through the generosity of the Florence and Robert Kaufman Family.