A nephew of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has reportedly emerged as a possible successor to ageing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Nasser al-Kidwa, the son of Arafat’s sister, has reportedly been tapped as next to lead the Palestinian Authority, according to a report by Israel’s Channel 2 Newson Wednesday, amid calls from Arab leaders for the 81-year-old Abbas to name a successor.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Jordanian King Abdullah II have both spoken personally to Abbas on the matter, wishing to avoid internal chaos in the event of the Abbas’ resignation or inability of the ageing statesman to lead. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have also sent representatives to address the issue, Channel 2reported.
Kidwa, 63, is a member of the Ramallah-based Fatah party and has served as Palestinian foreign minister and was also a former deputy UN-Arab League envoy to Syria. He also heads the Yasser Arafat Foundation, established after his uncle’s death in 2004.
Former Fatah strongman Mohammad Dahlan, who has often been rumored to be next in line to succeed his political rival Abbas, will not take over the Palestinian Authority, according to the report.
At one time Dahlan was one of Fatah’s most prominent figures, but he was expelled from the party in 2011 over allegations of corruption and murder. He now lives in the United Arab Emirates.
The Palestinians have not held a presidential election since 2005 and Abbas has remained in office despite the expiry of his term.
The Palestinian Authority decided on Tuesday toindefinitely suspend municipal polls set to be held this month amid disputes between the rival Fatah and Gaza-based Hamas movements over candidate lists.
Fatah and Hamas have not contested an election since 2006 parliamentary polls, which Hamas won — sparking a conflict that led to near civil war in Gaza the following year.
The Palestinian High Court had ruled that the vote could go ahead in the West Bank without the participation of the Gaza Strip, but the Palestinian Authority’s Central Election Committee (CEC) urged the PA to suspend the polls in order to come to a solution that would permit for Gaza’s participation.
”In the current environment, it is impossible to hold a vote and to remove Gaza from the equation,” the CEC said.
Despite repeated reconciliation attempts, Hamas and Fatah have failed to bridge their differences and form a unified administration for the Palestinian territories.