On Nov. 5, Abbas said he would not run in elections scheduled for
January 2010. The PA chairman said he would not change his mind.
"I told the members of the PLO Executive and Fateh Central Committees
that I am not willing to run for the next presidential elections," Abbas
said in a televised address. This decision is not a sort of bargaining,
maneuvering or bidding."
The sources identified four of the most likely candidates preparing
to succeed Abbas. They were Prime Minister Salam Fayad, jailed Fatah leader
Marwan Barghouti and former PA security chiefs Mohammed Dahlan and Jibril
At this point, most of the Fatah leadership believes Abbas would abandon
plans to hold elections in January 2010. The sources said the PA chairman
could cite Hamas's refusal to participate in elections or allow balloting to
take place in the Gaza Strip.
But the sources said Abbas was being pressured to hold elections
regardless of Hamas restrictions. They said the PA chairman was torn between
remaining in his position and the fear that he would be forced out of office
by Fatah's Young Guard.
"Abbas is determined not to leave quietly, but he is also seen as
increasingly vulnerable and no longer having the support of the Arabs and
the West," the source said.
At this point, Dahlan was said to have aligned himself with Fayad in any
bid to take over the PA leadership. The sources said the United States and
some members of the European Union support such a succession scenario.
Barghouti has also been preparing to run for PA chairman. The sources
said Barghouti would probably not announce his candidacy unless Abbas
decides to resign.
"Barghouti does not want to be seen as dividing Fatah, and would rather
not run than run and lose," another Palestinian source said.
Rajoub, a new member of the Fatah Central Committee, has also been
examining a race to replace Abbas. The sources said Rajoub, regarded as the
No. 2 figure in the Fatah leadership, overcame odds to become a member of
the Fatah leadership and establish a growing popularity among young
"Rajoub will probably align himself with one of the frontrunners," the