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Arab League to Mahmoud Abbas: Choose a Successor

Mahmoud Abbas, Associated Press image

JERUSALEM, Israel – Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president whose term expired nearly seven years ago is under increasing pressure to step down.

Earlier this week, the Arab League recommended that Abbas, 81, choose a successor, echoing the sentiment of some within his own Fatah faction, as well as Hamas, the Palestinian faction designated a terror group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since June 2007.

One possible successor is Mohammed Dahlan, former P.A. security chief in the Gaza Strip, who oversaw the buildup of Palestinian Security Forces to 20,000 strong. Dahlan later served as Abbas' national security advisor.

Abbas reportedly saw Dahlan as a threat to his leadership, which ended with Dahlan's exile to the United Arab Emirates in 2011.

The power struggle between Abbas and Dahlan has been described by Jerusalem Post Palestinian Affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh as representative of the rivalry between Fatah's "old and young guard."

Toameh believes Abbas will eventually choose someone from the "old guard."

"This power struggle will not end with Abbas's departure," he predicted. "The next Palestinian president will surely be one of Abbas's current loyalists. This in itself will drive Dahlan and his ilk to continue railing against the old guard."

Another name that's been bandied about for years as Abbas' successor is Marwan al-Barghouti, former head of Fatah's Tanzim militia, who is serving five life sentences plus 40 years for masterminding terror attacks during the second intifada (armed Palestinian uprising).

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