The Jerusalem Post is passing on a report from Israel’s “Channel 1” that Abbas is planning to retire within two months due to fatigue.  This explains the sudden placement of Saeb Erekat as secretary general of the PLO.  Many people will be skeptical of the announcement, assuming Mahmoud Abbas has done nothing and can’t be fatigued and are incredulous of replacing him with someone who could do something.  Yet one of the most tiring things a person can do is nothing because fatigue begets more fatigue, anyone who has had to lay in a hospital bed knows there are few things as exhausting as getting rest. Saeb Erekat is the perfect man to replace Abbas as he too will do nothing. Without a popular revolution to install a go getter, nothing will change. There is no chance the PA will manage finances better, make peace with Israel or even come up with a reasonable list of demands for peace. There is one difference, while Abbas frequently sat on his hands, Erekat is always quick to point fingers in any of the three directions that are away from the PA but he may now find someone else to do that for him. Those who fear the loss of Abbas statuesque leadership need not worry, change will not come, it may be a year before Abbas and Erekat notice anything is different. Still I will miss Abbas’ three great facial expressions of stoic, thinking about re-tiling the bathroom and possum.
 
Abbas briefly hosting the Tonight Show
 
When Mahmoud Abbas took over the PA there was a lot of hope for him, despite being even more extreme than Arafat in his contempt for Jews there was hope embracing responsibility would forge him into a peace maker, the same hope held out for Arafat but taking action was never really an Abbas thing. What he was great at was inaction and sometimes that paid off. Under his rule, the PA stopped having elections but it also killed innocent civilians a lot less, attacks on Israel dramatically dropped and corruption receded though never to Abbas’ detriment. Still, when you look back at all the things Abbas wanted to do as a younger man versus the things he actually did I think it is safe to say we are all better off he was a do nothing kind of leader.  Naturally this retirement is timed around the Iran deal, the Obama administration’s encore act for the Middle East will be “progress” on Israeli-Arab conflict and it will help a lot if there is someone in charge who can at least sound like he’s self-righteous and Saeb Erekat can imitate a man with a point like few can. In the meantime, I for one am glad Abbas can find even more time to take it easy but he should at least move his legs once an hour to avoid blood clots.

UPDATE: President Abbas upon realizing the sheer amount of work it would take to replace him is now denying reports that he would leave the office of PA President to retire. 


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