The Palestinian News Agency (WAFA) said that the Central Council of the Liberation Organization, which consists of 141 members, appointed Hussein al-Sheikh, 61, to the executive committee of the organization. Al-Sheeh is a close associate of Abbas (86 years).
It is likely that he will succeed the late Saeb Erekat in the position of Secretary General of the Committee.
The council, in its first meeting in nearly four years, also chose Rawhi Fattouh, 73, another Abbas aide, to head the National Council, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s highest decision-making body.
Both men were nominated by Abbas and his Fatah movement, which are widely seen in the Palestinian territories as potential successors to the Palestinian president.
They are not expected to promote any shift in policies regarding the conflict with Israel.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad rejected the invitation to attend the council’s session, which began on Sunday and is being held over two days, and said Abbas should first undertake power-sharing reforms.
Abbas heads the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Palestinian analysts said that the appointments of the Central Council could enhance the chances of Sheikh and Fattouh to succeed Abbas, but the internal divisions cast a shadow on the political scene, in addition to the presence of other potential competitors.
Abbas, who suffers from heart problems, did not indicate a successor.