Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, center, speaks during a meeting with the Palestinian Central Council, at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Jan. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
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The chief Palestinian legislative body will hold its first meeting in nearly a decade next month to elect a new leadership, officials said Wednesday, a step that could pave the way for a future successor to President Mahmoud Abbas. According to Ahmad Majdalani, a top Palestinian official, the nearly 700-member Palestine National Council will meet on April 30 in Ramallah. The purpose of the meeting would be to discuss political issues and to fill positions on the powerful Executive Committee, officials said. The 18-member committee is the top Palestinian decision-making body. Abbas, who turns 83 this month, has never designated a successor, despite suffering from a number of health issues. The council met in 1998 in Gaza, where in the presence of then-President Bill Clinton, it voted to void parts of the Palestinian national charter that denied Israel's right to exist.
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