A Hamas legal advisor on Wednesday said jailed Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Aziz al-Dewik, will replace president Mahmoud Abbas when his term ends in January until elections are held.
The announcement adds more tension to the deteriorating ties between Hamas and Abbas' Fatah movement and widens the internal Palestinian rift.
According to the law, The PLC speaker takes on as a president for 60 days to prepare for presidential elections. But Abbas' aides say he can stay in office for an additional year to hold legislative and presidential elections together, counting on an amendment that has not been ratified.
"Abbas term ends on Jan. 9, 2009 so, as a legal obligation, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) president becomes Aziz al-Dewik even if he is kidnapped by the occupation's forces," said Mohammed al-Ghoul, Hamas' minister of justice in Gaza.
Observers say elections can not be held while the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip is separated from the PNA-ruled West Bank asa result of Hamas' violent takeover of the territory last year.