One of the hot questions that remains unresolved for a decade now is the uncertainty surrounding the succession of Mahmoud Abbas, the octogenarian president of the Ramallah-based PA.
Recent years have seen waves of analysis and policy papers envisioning potential scenarios for the post-Abbas scene. Such concerns stem from the uncertain consequences of PA instability on both Palestinian domestic affairs and PA relations with Israel and its Western partners.
Obviously, those whose interests are at stake are the ones exhibiting the deepest concerns: the Israelis, Western governments, and the leaders of PA and Fatah. For most Palestinians, indifference seems to prevail, perhaps because the past three decades of PA rule has been a source of deep disappointment.
The election of Mahmoud Abbas in 2005 inaugurated a new chapter in Palestinian politics. His mandate focused on reshaping the post-Yasser Arafat scene and on rebuilding PA institutions along new lines more favourable to Israeli and donor conditions.
While he successfully delivered his promise of ensuring stability, disbanding resistance, and upgrading security coordination, Abbas failed miserably on his promises to his own people: creating an independent state, healing Palestinian divisions, and stamping out authoritarianism and corruption.
Although Abbas's presidential term officially expired in 2009, he secured an indefinite monopoly over the main centres of power. He is the president of the PA, the chairman of the PLO, and the head of the Fatah party.
By holding these key positions, Abbas has not only ensured unchallenged control of internationally recognised Palestinian institutions but also effectively weakened competitors, thus leaving all potential contenders on an unequal footing.
Speculation about Abbas's succession has generally been driven by his old age and poor health. However, recent events call into question his popular mandate, as, following the killing of the activist and outspoken critic Nizar Banat at the hands of PA security forces, more and more Palestinians are calling for him to leave and for the state to hold presidential and legislative elections.