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Top Palestinian legislative body to convene for first time in a decade

Abbas, who turns 83 this month, has never designated a successor. [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 March, 2018

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The nearly 700-member Palestine National Council will meet on 30 April in Ramallah in a step which could pave the way for a future successor to President Mahmoud Abbas.

The chief Palestinian legislative body will hold its first meeting in nearly a decade next month to elect a new leadership, officials said Wednesday.

The nearly 700-member Palestine National Council will meet on 30 April in Ramallah, Palestinian official Ahmad Majdalani said, in a step which could pave the way for a future successor to President Mahmoud Abbas.

The purpose of the meeting would be to discuss political issues and to fill positions on the powerful Executive Committee, officials said.

The 18-member committee is the top Palestinian decision-making body, but it is dominated by an aging leadership and it has struggled to function properly in recent years.

One member recently died, while at least two others have been weakened by health issues.

Abbas, who turns 83 this month, has never designated a successor, despite suffering from a number of health issues.

While not officially choosing a successor, the composition of the new executive committee could give a strong indication of the front-runners.

The number two in the executive committee usually succeeds the president when he leaves for any reason.

That spot is currently held by Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, but he recently underwent a lung transplant which raised questions on whether he would remain on the job.

The two front-runners are believed to be Jebril Rajoub, a former security chief and current head of the Palestinian football association, and Mahmoud Aloul, a former militant chief in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Lebanon.

Both men are on the executive committee.

While Hamas lawmakers are eligible to participate in the upcoming Palestinian National Council meeting, the group said it would not do so.

Ismail Radwan, a Hamas official, said the group objected to the council meeting "in its current formula."

"Convening it this way violates the national agreements and it boosts the Palestinian split," he said. He said a new national council should be selected first.

The council is a body of the Palestine Liberation Organization, an umbrella group meant to represent Palestinians world-wide.

Like the Palestinian Authority, Abbas' self-rule government in the West Bank, it is dominated by his Fatah movement.

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