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Palestinian succession gets more complicated

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The case of the succession of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has just gotten more complicated with news that PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat will undergo risky lung surgery this month. Palestinian officials had made a number of changes, including the creation of a constitutional court in April 2016, to ensure that Erekat would be interim president if Abbas is unable to continue his presidential duties. It is expected that the constitutional court would rule in favor of the PLO’s secretary-general, rather than the speaker of the parliament, to act as interim president in the 60 days leading up to new elections.

Multiple Palestinian sources and Israeli media have confirmed that the PLO's secretary-general and the head of the Palestinian negotiating team will have a lung transplant later this month.

A senior member of the Fatah Central Committee told Al-Monitor that while Erekat has been taking drugs for his lung ailment for nearly 10 years, the situation has recently deteriorated to the point that a transplant is required. “His ability to work well has been affected and his lungs are now operating at 35% capacity,” the Fatah official said on condition of anonymity due the personal and sensitive nature of the case.

A report published on the i24news site claimed that Erekat is likely to travel to the United States for surgery, although a senior Fatah source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that if the right donor is found he might undergo surgery in the region.

Abbas’ most prominent known replacements are unlikely to reach the presidential headquarters. Public opinion polls show Marwan Barghouti — currently serving multiple life sentences in Israeli prison — as the most........

© Al Monitor