Israeli Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Zeev Elkin said the collapse of the Palestinian Authority was inevitable during a speech at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University on Monday, in comments the PA later alleged were “absurd.”
Israeli daily Haaretz quoted Elkin as saying: “The question is not if the PA collapses, but when it is going to collapse. It can happen in a month or two, or a year or two tops.” He reportedly went on to say Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ “control on the ground is diminishing.”
Elkin said he tried to bring his concerns to the Israeli cabinet to no avail. “I’m not sure that the [Israeli] government has passed the diagnostic stage and realized the dramatic change we are facing,” he was quoted as saying.
The minister also warned that because there was no official succession mechanism in place in the case of Abbas’ resignation, “the most probable scenario is a violent succession struggle in the PA.”
He alleged that the only Fatah frontman who could rally the support of the Palestinian people in Abbas’ absence would be Marwan Barghouti, who is currently serving five life sentences in Israeli prison.
The comment parallels poll results by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), which found in December that two-thirds of the Palestinian public demand Abbas’ resignation. The poll also found that when asked to choose between Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Barghouti, 56 percent of people polled chose imprisoned Barghouti as Abbas’ successor.
PA spokesperson Osama al-Qawasmi later dismissed Elkin’s comments as “absurd,” saying: “The remarks made by this extremist Israeli minister are an obvious reflection of the evil will of his government.”