Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh has been appointed secretary-general of the PLO and head of the PLO negotiating team. Thanks to these two appointments, al-Sheikh is now the No.2 in the Palestinian leadership, boosting his chances of being made P.A. chairman.

The list of appointments for the PLO Executive Committee, one of the most influential institutions in the Palestinian political system, was published in Ramallah on Saturday.

Al-Sheikh maintains ongoing ties with both diplomatic and security figures in Israel and has the full support of the P.A. leader. Over the last year, he met with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz. The meetings focused on civilian issues that included economic steps and the easing of restrictions on Palestinians, as well as the need for diplomatic talks that Abbas has demanded be held. Abbas supported the meetings, which he saw as a workaround to the diplomatic freeze under Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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