Profiles: Arafat's Possible Successors

Published November 11, 2004

| Associated Press

Top candidates to succeed Yasser Arafat (search) as Palestinian leader:

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AHMED QUREIA: Palestinian prime minister, No. 2 official in Arafat administration. Longtime member of Arafat's Fatah (search) movement, he was key architect of 1993 Oslo peace accords with Israel and led Palestinians in negotiations with Israeli government over most of past decade. Became premier last year, and after initially challenging Arafat's authority unsuccessfully, became more compliant.

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MAHMOUD ABBAS: Former Palestinian prime minister who quit after fight with Arafat. Respected internationally and among Palestinians, he was second-ranking leader of Palestine Liberation Organization behind Arafat. Also known as Abu Mazen (search), helped found PLO in 1964 and later served as secretary-general of PLO executive committee and member of Palestine National Council, PLO's legislature.

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MARWAN BARGHOUTI: Most popular Palestinian leader after Arafat, but serving five consecutive life terms in Israeli prison after being convicted for involvement in attacks on Israelis. Was West Bank leader of Fatah movement and once close ally of Israeli peace activists in advocating Palestinian state alongside Israel, but vigorously backed resistance after outbreak of violence in September 2000.

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RAUHI FATTOUH: Speaker of Palestinian parliament, who will initially succeed Arafat as president for maximum of 60 days until election held. But Fattouh, close Arafat ally, bland politician with little independent support and unlikely to hold power for long.

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JIBRIL RAJOUB: Former West Bank security chief who fought bitterly with Arafat in past, but after reconciliation was named Arafat's national security adviser last year. Rajoub, once one of most feared men in West Bank, has said he disagreed with shootings and suicide bombings that characterize Palestinian uprising. Choosing Rajoub would likely exacerbate divisions among Palestinians.

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MOHAMMED DAHLAN: Widely considered most powerful figure in Gaza Strip. Was Palestinian security chief until last year, when Qureia took over as premier and replaced him. Has good contacts with Israel and United States and both countries hope he will help secure Gaza following planned Israeli withdrawal. His selection would probably lead to infighting among Palestinians.

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