TEL AVIV – The nephew of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is reported to be the most likely candidate to head the Palestinian Authority after an aging Mahmoud Abbas steps down.
After Arab leaders called on Abbas to choose a successor, the son of Arafat’s sister Nasser al-Kidwa is likely to be tapped for the position, according to a report by Israel’s Channel 2.
Kidwa, 63, a member of Abbas’ Fatah party, served a stint as Palestinian foreign minister and deputy UN-Arab League envoy to Syria respectively. He is also the director of the Yasser Arafat Foundation, established after his uncle’s death in 2004.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, and representatives from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have all spoken to Abbas, urging him to name a successor in the event of his resignation or if he is deemed unable to continue in office.
All four nations assured Abbas that his children will be protected when he leaves his position.
Former Fatah strongman Mohammad Dahlan, once considered the favored candidate to take over the PA, is not likely to be selected, the report said. Dahlan was ousted from Fatah in 2011 following allegations of corruption and murder, and now lives in the United Arab Emirates.
In recent months Abbas and Dahlan had been engaged in reconciliation talks in an attempt to prevent Hamas from gaining power ahead of elections in the West Bank and Gaza.
However, last week Breitbart Jerusalem reported that Dahlan allegedly told an Egyptian official that Abbas was a “camel” for regurgitating old ideas.
Abbas is approaching his twelfth year as president even though his term ended in 2009. There have not been elections since 2005.
On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority announced that it was suspending municipal elections until further notice. A day earlier, the PA’s High Court said elections would only go ahead in the West Bank and not the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, prompting the Palestinian Central Elections Commission to call on Abbas to delay the elections for at least six months, or until Gaza could be included.
The last municipal elections between the two parties occurred in 2006 with Hamas winning, leading to a melee in the Strip bordering on civil war.