(DAILY STAR) BEIRUT: Palestinian President Yasser Arafat has failed to groom a successor, but whatever the outcome of his illness, few believe he will be in a position to resume his current responsibilities. Successors are divided into two categories: those who have been with Arafat through the PLO’s long exile in Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia, and a younger generation that remained in the Occupied Territories and was involved in the first and second intifadas.
The “old guard”
Ahmed Qorei: Palestinian prime minister. A longtime Arafat ally who played a key role in the secret negotiations that led to the Oslo Accords in 1993.
Mahmoud Abbas: Arafat’s No. 2 in the Palestine Liberation Organization. Served as prime minister for four months in 2003, but resigned after a power struggle with Arafat.
Nabil Shaath: Former businessman and now PA foreign minister. A Western-style politician, with close ties to the U.S. During Arafat’s enforced stay in Ramallah Shaath has become the international face of the PA.
Salim Zaanoun: Head of the 700 strong Palestinian National Council, a body now largely superceded by the establishment of the PA’s political institutions. Popular within the PLO despite disagreements with Arafat.
The young pretenders
Mohammed Dahlan: Former Gaza security chief. Member of pro-reform generation, which is challenging the old guard around Arafat. Has been courted by international mediators as someone who could ensure order in Gaza after Israel’s scheduled pullout next year.
Jibril Rajoub: West Bank security chief. Expelled by Israel in 1988 after serving a prison term for attacking Israeli soldiers. Has criticized Palestinian attacks inside Israel and clamped down on Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Marwan Barghouti: Former head of Fatah in the West Bank. Currently serving five consecutive life sentences in an Israeli jail for orchestrating murders, a charge he denies. Widely seen as the political leader of the current intifada which started in 2000. The most popular Palestinian leader after Arafat because of his distance from corruption in Arafat’s regime.
Rawhi Fattouh: Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Would be president for 60 days if Arafat died. Although widely seen as an Arafat loyalist, Fattouh suspended the PA Parliament for two months to protest the president’s failure to ratify reforms.