Leading Palestinian Body To Convene Rare Meeting Amid Abbas Health Rumors
The Palestine Liberation Organization—the umbrella group that is internationally-recognized as the representative of the Palestinian people—will convene its legislative body, the Palestine National Council, for a rare meeting next month to elect new members to its two top commissions, the Executive Committee and the Central Council. The 700-member PLO “parliament”—the de facto official Palestinian legislature given that the Palestinian Legislative Council, whose members are elected by the public, has been defunct for over a decade—last met in 2009. The move comes amid increasing chatter about the health of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who during a trip to the United States last month was briefly hospitalized for what officials downplayed as routine tests. Although the meeting, scheduled for April 30, is not meant to choose Abbas’ successor, the composition of the new Executive Committee will give a strong indication of the chief contenders. While the No. 2 in the PLO’s top body is generally groomed to replace the president, that spot is currently held by Saeb Erekat, whose own health is said to be declining after a recent lung transplant. According to many analysts, the front-runners to replace Abbas are Jibril Rajoub, the former head of the Palestinian security forces and currently the boss of the Palestinian Football Association; and Mahmoud al-Aloul—better known by his nom de guerre, Abu Jihad—the Deputy Chairman of Abbas’ ruling Fatah faction who prior to the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords directed many of the PLO’s terror operations against Israel.