Israeli Prime minister Ariel Sharon advised U.S. president George Bush to start planning for the post-Abbas era, saying the Palestinian leader is on the verge of collapsing, and is losing control over the PA and inside the Palestinian territories to armed resistance groups.

As Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas took over power, the American Administration rushed to warn Sharon against “undermining” the new Palestinian leader.

Different from Arafat’s times, when Sharon managed to convince most world leaders, especially the U.S. president, that he was an obstacle to peace efforts, Abbas’s directness in addressing political and security issues, and remarkable achievements in a short period of time, raised his credibility among world leaders. Also, having Mohammad Dahlan and Salam Fiad, both are considered as close friends of the Bush Administration, as his closest aides, provided Abbas with considerable immunity against Sharon’s “incitement”

Yet, Abbas is evidently facing tremendous difficulties. As time passes without any noticeable change on ground, Palestinians, who have seen Abbas as the savior, the leader who would bring a change, are losing confidence in the current process. As their hopes for a change evaporates in a suffocating atmosphere, support for Abbas is eroding.

Israel shoulders responsibility for most of the hardships Abbas faces. He is treated with an intolerable level of arrogance; he is punished for each incident whether initiated by Palestinians or by Israelis; he is faced with immediate demands and at the same time still deprived from building up capabilities. 

Dahaln’s outcry to Israeli officials “what are you doing to us? Why are you undermining Abbas? In few months we are heading to difficult elections, and so far we don’t have even one achievement to present to Palestinians” represents the level of frustration among the new Palestinian leadership.

While Abbas is facing serious challenges in reforming the PA security forces and attempting to restore law and order in PA controlled areas, the growing popularity of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) presents a major challenge to his program to democratize and rebuild the civil pillars of the Palestinian society.

Walking through the thorny passage of running reforms in all directions, Abbas is standing alone. Hamas is increasingly seeking more power; Sharon is pressing for a Palestinian civil war; Mofaz is threatening, and the world is shaking shoulders and turning back.

Remembering the way in which “the man” was welcomed, it is hard to believe that most of the drum beaters, who danced for his arrival, have already turned their backs.

Abbas failed once as a prime minister, would he fail again as a President? Sharon is the one who holds the key to the answer.