TEL AVIV, Israel: The resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas leaves the Palestinians in a fix: How can they find a successor who would be accepted by both Yasser Arafat and Israel and the United States?
The list of candidates who might strike such a balance is short - one possibility is parliament speaker Ahmed Qureia - and the need to resolve the crisis is urgent. In a vacuum, Palestinian militants might step up attacks, and Israel could take dramatic measures such as the expulsion of Yasser Arafat.
Abbas' four months in office served as a sobering illustration of the challenges that any successor would face.
Israeli leaders gave Abbas little to show his people, and Palestinian militants paid little heed to his calls for ending violence.
In part, however, Abbas' own nature compounded the already tough situation.
Widely seen as a bureaucrat detached from the field, hamstrung by his lack of guerrilla pedigree, and impatient with political trench warfare, Abbas failed to rally the masses around his vision of peaceful negotiations.
Abbas handed Arafat his resignation on Saturday after days of wrangling over his demand that Arafat grant him full control over the Palestinian security forces - and, implicitly, a stronger hand against militants.
In a statement released on Saturday, Abbas said: "The fundamental problem is Israel's unwillingness to implement its "roadmap" commitments and to undertake any constructive measures."
Abbas asked in vain for Israeli measures that would prove to Palestinians that his policies were yielding fruit - in particular, the removal of dozens of roadblocks Israel placed in the areas, aimed at stopping militants but making life a misery for millions.
Israel's release of several hundred detained militants in July was meant as a goodwill gesture. It backfired by humiliating Abbas, who had asked that thousands be freed.
(Xinhua News Agency September 8, 2003)