Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas received a clean bill of health after undergoing an emergency heart procedure on Thursday. But his brief hospitalization drew attention to the lack of a clear successor to the aging leader and the ongoing rift between rival governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Abbas, leader of the Fatah Party, was elected president of the Palestinian Authority in 2005 in what was supposed to be a four-year term. One year later, the rival Hamas militant group defeated Fatah in parliamentary elections and violently seized control of Gaza in 2007. Abbas has remained in control of parts of the West Bank ever since, while no national elections have been held. Despite his age, plummeting popularity and history of health issues, Abbas has ignored calls over the years to appoint a successor. A long list of senior officials and security chiefs would likely covet the job, though there is no clear front-runner.
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