(photo credit: AP )
Is Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas grooming his son to succeed him?
PA officials in Ramallah refused over the weekend to comment on the fact that Yasser Abbas had accompanied his father on a visit to Qatar last week.
A prominent businessman, the junior Abbas met with the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, and other top government officials in Doha on Thursday together with his father.
The meeting was also attended by chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat and the PLO ambassador to Qatar, Munir Ghannam. The PA is an organ of the PLO.
A Fatah operative in the West Bank said he and many Palestinians were surprised to see Yasser Abbas as a member of the PA delegation.
"There are many Palestinian businessmen who would love to do business with the Qataris and other Gulf countries," the operative said. "Why didn't our president take with him a delegation of businessmen?"
A PA official in the Mukata presidential compound reacted with fury to The Jerusalem Post's inquiry about whether Abbas, like Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, was grooming his son to succeed him.
"It's none of your business what the president does!" the official shouted before hanging up.
Abbas's visit to Doha was seen in the context of his efforts to mend fences with the oil-rich emirate following allegations by the PA that Qatar was supporting Hamas financially and politically.
The crisis between Qatar and the PA reached its peak last month when Abbas refused to attend a mini-Arab summit called by the emir of Qatar to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of Israel's military offensive.
The Qataris said then that Abbas had told them he was afraid that he would be punished - apparently by Israel and the US - if he were to attend the Arab summit.
Relations between Abbas and Qatar have also been strained following allegations by the PA president that the Qatari-owned TV network Al-Jazeera was biased in favor of Hamas.
For several months now, Abbas has banned Al-Jazeera from entering the Mukata and has refused to grant an interview to the station, under the pretext that it supports Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.