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Possible Arafat successors


(CNN) -- With Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat passing, attention now turns to possible successors.

Ahmed Qorei

Arafat tapped Qorei to be his prime minister in September 2003 after the resignation of the first Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, who had battled Arafat for power. A member of Arafat's Fatah faction, Qorei was chief of the Palestinian delegation to the secret talks that led to the Oslo accords in 1993.

Qorei, 67, also headed the negotiations that led to a pact on economic relations between the Palestinian territories and Israel in 1994 and an interim agreement on the West Bank and Gaza in 1995.

Qorei, a banker, previously was minister of economy and trade and minister of industry.

Mahmoud Abbas

Arafat named Abbas his first prime minister in April 2003 and spent the next four months in a power struggle with the 69-year-old secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization before Abbas resigned the following September.

Encouraged by Abbas' appointment, the United States presented the "road map" to peace. The peace plan -- backed by the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia -- called for steps on both sides aimed at ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and establishing an independent Palestinian state.

Abbas, who repeatedly said he did not want to be a figurehead prime minister, was a behind-the-scenes man in the lead-up to the Oslo accords and worked with many of the discussion groups dealing with other accords. Abbas called for a halt to attacks on Israel after the second Intifada began in fall 2000.

Mohammed Dahlan

Dahlan, a longtime Fatah member and founder of the Fatah Youth Association in 1981, was born in Gaza's Khan Yunis refugee camp in 1961. He was jailed in Israel for political activism from 1983 until Israel expelled him to Jordan five years later. He returned to the Palestinian territories in 1994 and eventually participated in peace negotiations at Wye River in Maryland in 1999, Camp David, Maryland, in 2000 and Taba, Egypt, in 2001. He is a former Gaza security chief and became security minister under Abbas over Arafat's objections.

Nabil Sha'ath

Sha'ath, the Palestinian foreign minister, has been a member of the Fatah Central Committee since 1971, and he headed the PLO's first delegation to the United Nations in 1974. He was a member of the Madrid, Spain, peace delegation in 1991, was chief negotiator from 1993 to 1995 and participated in talks conducted at Camp David in 2000 and Taba in 2001.

Sha'ath, who holds business and law degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and University of Alexandria in the United Arab Republic, is a public planning and transportation consultant.

Marwan Barghouti

Although he is serving five consecutive life terms and 40 years in an Israeli prison for murder and attempted murder, Barghouti is one of the Palestinians' most popular politicians.

A Fatah leader born in 1958 in Ramallah, West Bank, he was arrested and convicted on five murder charges in 2002 -- and acquitted on more than 30 others because of lack of evidence. Israel ties him to Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a military offshoot of the Fatah movement that has attacked Israeli military and civilian targets. Barghouti denies founding the group.

Rawhi Fattuh

Fattuh, speaker of the Palestinian House of Representatives, was elected as a Fatah member from Rafa in southern Gaza. Under the Palestinian Constitution, Fattuh would assume the presidency in the event of Arafat's death or if he is determined unable or incompetent to continue. The constitution calls for elections within 60 days to fill the post.

Yasser Abed Rabbo

Rabbo, born in Jaffa in 1945, is the Palestinian minister of Cabinet affairs. An associate of Arafat's since the 1960s, he was a founding member of the leftist PLO faction Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He broke away from that faction in 1991 and formed the Palestinian Democratic Union. Rabbo participated in the Madrid and Oslo negotiation teams.

Rabbo and Arafat have drifted apart in recent years; the former declined an invitation to join the new government in 2002. Rabbo, who has participated with former Israeli Justice Minister Yossi Beilin on a program of joint-information and education forums, was one of three notable Palestinians to sign the nonbinding Joint Israeli-Palestinian Declaration "No to Bloodshed, No to Occupation, Yes to Negotiations, Yes to Peace."

Jibril Rajoub

Rajoub is security chief in the West Bank. He was born in 1953 in Dura, West Bank. He is a longtime Fatah member whom the Israelis expelled to Lebanon in 1988 for his part in the first Intifada. Two years later, he was convicted of throwing a grenade at an Israeli soldier and sentenced to life in prison. Some sources have said Rajoub is believed to back Abbas to replace Arafat.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh

Rudeineh is a key adviser to Arafat and often a spokesman for the Palestinian leader. He is considered a hard-liner on Palestinian issues.


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