By his own design there is no obvious successor to President Yasser Arafat. He has guarded his position jealously, which means that his immediate legacy will likely be a fierce power stuggle among the Palestinian political elite. Among those is Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie. He is 66 years old and a long time ally of Arafat. He enjoys a reputation as a skilled politician, but lacks Arafat’s charisma and popular touch.
Mahmoud Abbas has long been Arafat’s second in command in the Palestine Liberation Organisation. He has been a critic of violence during the four-year-long Palestinian uprising. Like Qurie, he lacks a popular following. Among the younger generation of leaders, Mohammed Dahlan is a former interior minister and security chief, courted by international mediators as a strongman who could instil order in Gaza. One possible successor in the long run is Marwan Barghouthi. He is widely regarded as the grassroots leader of the uprising which began in 2000. He is currently serving a prison sentence in an Israeli jail for orchestrating murders. He denies the charges. With Arafat having worked so hard to keep those under him in their place, the chances of anyone emerging with the widespread support to make concessions to the Israelis is minimal.