Report: Abbas searching for candidates to replace him as PA head
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Report: Abbas searching for candidates to replace him as PA head

Palestinian president’s party is trying to prevent him from stepping down, Hamas daily claims, as rumors swirl of imminent resignation

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas attends a Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, August 22, 2015 (Flash90)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas attends a Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, August 22, 2015 (Flash90)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has asked members of his Fatah party to select three candidates to replace him, a daily linked to rival group Hamas reported on Monday.

A source in Fatah told the al-Resalah newspaper that Abbas, 80, is determined to announce his resignation soon from the leadership of the party, which controls the PA.

According to the daily, party organs are trying to dissuade the president from submitting his resignation.

Members of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council were summoned to a “crucial” meeting in Ramallah on Monday evening to discuss the party’s candidates for the PLO’s next Executive Committee.

There was no immediate response from Fatah officials.

Abbas and ten other PLO members resigned from the Executive Committee last Saturday, in a bureaucratic move intended to pave the way for a new Palestinian congress.

Rumors of Abbas’s imminent resignation have been circulating for several months.

Earlier this month, a prominent Egyptian journalist said Abbas had notified Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi of his decision to step down within two months.

Abbas has been serving as PA president since January 2005, though his term officially ended in January 2009.

Political conflict between rival movements Fatah and Hamas has prevented parliamentary and presidential elections in the Palestinian territories since January 2006.

The Palestinian National Council, the PLO’s legislative body, is set to convene on September 14 to elect the new 18-member Executive Committee, the PLO’s decision-making group.

The Executive Committee allots Fatah three members, currently held by Abbas, chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, and Tunis-based veteran Farouq Qaddumi.

But a source in Fatah told Palestinian news website Donia al-Watan that Abbas does not intend to run, nor will Qaddumi, the site reported Monday.

Abbas, the site reported, is preparing to deliver “an important speech” on Tuesday.

On Sunday, Abbas traveled to Jordan, where the he and King Abdullah discussed tensions in Jerusalem as well as other regional issues, Palestinian news site Ma’an reported.

The 740-member PNC, with members living both in the Palestinian territories and the diaspora, has not convened since 1996.

Hamas said it would not attend the PNC meeting in September.

Movement leader Hassan Youssef told London-based daily al-Quds al-Arabi that Hamas members of parliament have not received invitations from PNC chairman Salim Zanoun,

“This indicates a revolt against Palestinian legitimacy represented by Hamas, which holds the highest number of seats in the Legislative Council,” Youssef told the daily.

Youssef said that even if Hamas — which is not a member organization of the PLO — were to be invited to the PNC gathering in Ramallah, it would not attend, since it is “not the appropriate place to discuss the Palestinian issue.”

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