On March 13, an explosion targeted a convoy ferrying PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and PA Intelligence Chief Majed Faraj. They both escaped unhurt but several people were wounded. The attack took place in the Gaza strip and PA President Abbas was quick in pointing a blaming finger at the rulers of Gaza, Hamas. Hamas denied any involvement and accused (as usual) Israel.
The attack also put another wrench in the on-again/off-again reconciliation process between Hamas and the PA. And it is in the reconciliation process that the answer to who’s behind the attack may lie.
Abbas quick accusation of Hamas stems from his deep frustration with the new Gaza-leader, Yahya Sinwar (with Ismail Haniyeh as overall leader) and the fact that he is pressured by Egypt and UAE to compromise and clinch the deal with Hamas. The major bone of contention between Hamas and PA is control over security, including weapons. Abbas is adamant that it’s not enough to take over the administration and borders, but he wants total control over domestic security as well and that is something Hamas can’t concede.
And then there is also the long-running conflict between Abbas and Mohammad Dahlan, who was forced out of PA in 2011 and now lives in exile in the UAE. With support from UAE, Egypt and with excellent ties to many other actors (like Israel and KSA for example) Dahlan is in a good position to gain a prominent role in the PA once Abbas resign or die (he’s 83 this year) and Abbas is very determined to make sure that never happens. His options are limited however and with real enemies all around, are acutely aware of the fact that his days at the helm of the PA are numbered.
But those political enemies of Abbas have nothing to gain by killing him. And the attack itself points more to either a small group of Salafists or a Hamas-unit gone rouge and wanting to stop the reconciliation-process.
As for the others, their best option is to keep pressuring Abbas, wait for his demise – one way or another – and then step in with a new policy in place.