TEL AVIV – The Israeli defense establishment is concerned with the deteriorating health of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas following another hospitalization last week, an analysis in the Haaretz daily said.
According to PA officials, Abbas was brought to a hospital in Ramallah Friday morning to run some tests after suffering from “fatigue” as a result of the tensions with Israel over the Temple Mount crisis.
According to the article, authored by veteran defense analyst Amos Harel, Israeli and Palestinian sources are concerned that any further deterioration of Abbas’ health could result in the hasty appointment of a new PA chairman.
Harel writes that following the Temple Mount skirmishes, Abbas and the PA may have only called for a “Day of Rage” in Jerusalem and the West Bank in order to compete with their rival Hamas in Gaza. Abbas has been increasingly concerned about the growing relationship between Hamas and Mohammed Dahlan – seen as the PA president’s chief opponent – under the auspices of the Egyptians.
The Israeli defense establishment is also troubled by the “victory” hailed by the Palestinian leadership over Israel’s decision to remove the new security measures installed at the Mount. All security agencies except for the police backed the move to dismantle metal detectors and security cameras put in place following the July 14 terror attack which saw two Israeli police officers murdered near the holy site.
According to some sources in Israel’s security cabinet, the security agencies presented “apocalyptic scenarios” if Israel declined to remove the metal detectors. This was in contrast to Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich’s view, who said removing them was tantamount to “caving in” to the Palestinian Authority. Public opinion also reflected Alsheich’s view, with polls showing that the overwhelming majority of Israelis (77%) thought it amounted to capitulation on Israel’s part.
Harel writes, however, that now those same security agencies are worried that the perceived victory will be a springboard for more attacks or else will be used by the Palestinians in the diplomatic arena, such as a renewed effort to join international agencies.
Israeli lawmakers, including Culture Minister Miri Regev and coalition whip David Bitan (Likud), have attacked the security establishment for intimidating the cabinet and forcing its hand in the decision over the metal detectors. Bitan also implied that the IDF was responsible for allowing the terror attack in the West Bank community of Halamish – which saw three family members stabbed at their Shabbat table – to occur.