1. "the reason Abbas is reorganizing the government every few weeks is to avoid having to hold elections." - Mark L Not really, Mark. According to the Palestinian Basic Law, a state of Emergency can be declared for 30 days only, unless extended by Parliament (which is out of the question today). The first Fayyad government was appointed according to the Abbas power during the State of Emergency. But this state is over now. In normal times, but when the Parliament is not in session and there is need for quick action, the President has the power to issue decrees, which then can be accepted or rejected by Parliament when it reconvenes. Abbas is using these powers to appoint the second Fayyad government. Of course, if Shalit is released and Israel releases from jail the Hamas legislators, the Parliament will convene and depose the Fayyad government right away. (The corollary is that Shalit is not going to be released for a long long time.) 2. "it is unlikely that Fatah would do as well now as it did then." I doubt that Abbas has the legalk authority to call new elections. But even if he had, Hamas controls Gaza and will not allow elections there. And it will probably attempt to disrupt the elections in the West Bank. There will be no elections. 3. "If all Abbas has delivered is civil war, and no prospect of a settlement with Israel, I think he has next to nothing to offer the Palestinian people." Here I agree with you.
At least 1,000 Israeli Arabs protest death of Palestinian infant in deadly West Bank arson (Haaretz)
from the article: Fayad: No point in goodwill gestures without negotiations