Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is not planning to run in the next presidential election, senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub said in an interview with Palestine TV on Monday.Rajoub’s announcement contradicts a statement by another senior Fatah official, Hussein al-Sheikh, who recently said that the only candidate of Fatah in the presidential election will be the 84-year-old Abbas. “President Abbas is the only candidate of Fatah and honorable Palestinians,” Sheikh said.Rajoub, who also heads the Palestinian Football Association, described Abbas as a “national treasure.” Abbas, he revealed, does not want to run in the election, and he won’t agree to be a candidate.“Let us make him the sheikh of the tribe and the spiritual father of the democratic process,” Rajoub said. “In two months, President Abbas will celebrate his 85th birthday.”In September, Abbas announced in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly that he intends to call for “general elections” in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.Rajoub, a former head of the PA’s Preventive Security Force in the West Bank, is seen by some Palestinians as a potential successor to Abbas. However, Rajoub did not say in the interview whether he intends to present his candidacy in the presidential election.Rajoub’s announcement that Abbas won’t seek another term in office is likely to trigger a “war of succession” between several veteran PLO and Fatah officials who see themselves as suitable candidates to succeed the PA president.Abbas himself has not said whether he intends to contest the next election. Moreover, he still hasn’t announced a date for holding new presidential and parliamentary elections.The last Palestinian presidential election was held in 2005, when Abbas was elected for a four-year term. The last parliamentary election, held in 2006, resulted in a Hamas victory.Rajoub expressed hope that Abbas would set a date for the new elections before the end of this year.“For Fatah, the elections are a strategic choice,” he said. “We are the ones who initiated the 2006 parliamentary election, and we honored the results.”Rajoub welcomed Hamas’s positive response to Abbas’s initiative to hold new elections. The Palestinians, he said, are going through a difficult phase because of the continued dispute between Fatah and Hamas.“Israel benefits from the division in the Palestinian arena,” he said.The elections, Rajoub stressed, should be held in “all occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem.” He pointed out that the PA and Israel had previously reached agreement to allow east Jerusalem residents to participate in the Palestinian elections.“Our position is that the elections should be held in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem,” he said. “We will do our utmost to ensure that the voting process is free and transparent.”Meanwhile, a delegation representing the Palestinian Central Elections Commission returned to the Gaza Strip on Tuesday for further discussions with Hamas and other Palestinian factions about the proposed elections. Last week, the head of the commission, Hanna Nasser, visited the Gaza Strip, where he met with leaders of Palestinian factions, including Hamas, in an attempt to reach agreement on new elections.PA officials on Tuesday expressed optimism about the prospects of striking a deal with Hamas over the elections.They said that the discussions between the Palestinian Central Elections Commission officials and Hamas have been “very positive.”According to the officials, the parliamentary elections could be held in February or March 2020, while the presidential election will take place a few months later.The PA has also asked several international parties to pressure Israel to allow the Palestinians to hold the elections in east Jerusalem, the officials said.