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Arafat aide: Israel reaching out to Abbas successors

Oct. 14, 2012 11:08 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 15, 2012 1:20 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- A former adviser to President Yasser Arafat on Saturday accused Israel of working to replace the current president behind the scenes.

Bassam Abu Sharif said Israeli officials were making calls to Palestinian figures in Israeli jail to scope out a successor to President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as to people close to the president.

He said it reminded him of the time of Arafat, when Israeli officials made the same calls to replace the president, who was regarded by Israel as a terrorist.

Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman sparked outrage among Palestinians after calling for Palestinian elections to usher in new leaders in an Aug. 20 letter to US, EU, Russian and UN leaders.

The former bouncer from Moldova has repeatedly called Abbas "the biggest obstacle to peace."

Abbas' aides say Lieberman's comments, which have been disavowed by other members of the Israeli government, constitute incitement and they are looking at ways to file a lawsuit against him.
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