Weekend long read

1) At the Algemeiner, Yoni Ben Menachem looks at ‘The Man Planning for the Day After Abbas’.

“Israeli and US officials are watching Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas with concern. Senior Fatah officials report that something is happening to the 86-year-old leader. He has slowed his activity and cut back on his meetings, participating only in the most important ones while leaving the others to his confidant, senior PLO official Hussein Al-Sheikh. In other words, Al-Sheikh, currently the leading candidate to succeed Abbas until elections are held in PA-controlled areas, is gradually assuming the chairman’s duties. […]

A leak to the BBC’s Arabic channel over the weekend stated that Abbas had been hastily taken to hospital and transferred some of his powers to Al-Sheikh. The leak was no coincidence. Senior Fatah officials say this fake news was aimed at undermining the close ties between Abbas and his trusted ally. The leak was staunchly denied by the PA and the BBC was forced to delete it from its website.”

2) At the JCPA, Nadav Shragai analyses ‘Israel’s E1 Building Plan: The Most Strategic, Consensual – and Frozen – Project’.

“According to the Israeli concept, avoidance of creating Israeli settlement continuity between the Jerusalem area from the west and the Maale Adumim area from the east, leading to the Dead Sea, will inevitably give rise to a different, competing Palestinian continuity from north to south that will cancel out the plans for Israeli continuity. At present Israel is finding it very difficult to counteract such Palestinian continuity – for example, in the Khan al-Ahmar squatter village affair along the strategic Jerusalem-Jericho road – because of the stance of the international community, which thwarts measures to stop the illegal building in the area. Indeed, as pointed out often in recent months, the Europeans themselves are involved in illegal construction activity in Area C.”

3) The ITIC documents Hamas explanations of why it did not attack Israel last month.

“Today, a year after Operation Guardian of the Walls, Hamas wants to avoid another military campaign waged inside the Gaza Strip. Despite the litany of threats issued by senior Hamas figures on the eve of the Flag March, Hamas’ lack of response was dictated by practical considerations. The ongoing criticism forced Hamas to “explain” its motives. Apparently Hamas, which has positioned itself as “the defender of Jerusalem and the sites holy to Islam,” will continue to foment unrest in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, undermining security in the Palestinian Authority (PA) territories. However, in the meantime it will preserve quiet in the Gaza Strip.”

4) Writing at ‘State of Tel Aviv’, Attila Somfalvi looks back at the Negev Summit.

“On Sunday evening, March 27, after the warm embraces in front of the cameras at the entrance to the Kedma Hotel, Lapid accompanied his guests into the air-conditioned lobby. The supporting entourages of ambassadors and advisers were not invited into the dining room where the six foreign ministers gathered. Dinner was served at a circular table to avoid seating mishaps.

The atmosphere was reportedly congenial, pleasant and fun.

Shortly after 8:00 pm, the door opened. Lapid saw his senior advisor, Yael Bar, standing at the entrance. He went pale.

If Bar was breaching the directive to leave them be, then something bad must have happened. Really bad. Lapid left the room and was told about the terror attack that had taken place in Hadera in central Israel just minutes earlier. “There are casualties,” the staff informed the foreign minister.”

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