Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas starts his 17th year in government. He continues to serve as the President of the Palestinian Authority based in Ramallah.
He took over in January 2005 and succeeded late Yasser Arafat. Abbas was then elected with a 62.52 majority. The social media is today rife with the news about him starting his 17th year as president.
His photos are all over the social media. They are both in Arabic and English and he is being congratulated even by the Israelis although in “back-handed” compliments splashed social.
Anadolu had this to say: Palestine’s veteran President Mahmoud Abbas is starting his 17th year in office amid political difficulties and waning prospects for Palestinian reconciliation.
Abbas was born in 1935 in Safad, a city about 210 kilometers (130 miles) north of Jerusalem, 13 years before he and his family, along with hundreds of thousands of other Palestinians, were forcefully evicted from their homes and lands in a tragedy Palestinians refer to as the “Nakba,” or Catastrophe,” the Turkish news agency.
As a result of the 1948 exodus, Abbas and his family went to Syria, where he began his political activities in the 1960s, contacting the nascent Fatah movement. Anadolu corespondent Salam Abu Sharar carried a full report stating that Abbas assumed several political positions through the 1970s until he became the leader of the secret negotiations delegation in 1989 that established a peace process with Israel and coordinated the negotiations during the 1991 Madrid Conference.
Abu Sharar reporting from Ramallah then interviewed many Palestinian analysts on the 86-year-old president: “Abbas was a critical player in the Oslo Project, which gave the occupation recognition and gave it a place and authority over Palestine, and he continued this policy until today. This reflects on the high settlers’ activities and the security coordination,” political analyst Mustafa Sawaf said.
Through his career as president, Abbas has worked to quell armed resistance against Israel in the West Bank and expressed willingness for a two-state solution with Israel despite the opposition of other factions, particularly those that engage in armed resistance, like Hamas.
In 2003, Abbas became prime minister for four months before he resigned amid disputes with then-President Arafat due to differing ideas on peace with Israel, as well as the second Palestinian Intifada.
Anadolu also spoke to Mustafa Barghouti in Ramallah. He stood against Abbas in the last 2005 presidential elections and emphasized during his campaign that the Oslo Process had collapsed and that the Palestinians had to adopt another route with Israel based on the national unity, popular resistance and stop believing in a political solution through Oslo accords with Israel.
Barghouti believes Oslo was a political trap and that it involved major errors, while not containing a clear view of final resolution and not recognizing a Palestinian state. “The Palestinian politicians must announce that they are relinquishing those accords and stop security coordination with Israel,” he told Abu Sharar.
During the Abbas presidency, negotiations with Israel reached an impasse, rendering Palestinians unable to improve their condition. “The Palestinian strategy must be based on an approach of struggle as an alternative to the negotiations that have proved unsuccessful,” added Barghouti.
Some political experts argue that Abbas’s years as president also produced complications related to the democratic process, public freedoms, and armed resistance, as well as internal conflicts within Fatah that lead to factionalism in the party.
“Since the latest elections in 2006, Abbas consolidated the political divisions both with Hamas and inside Fatah, and any speech about national unity has been a fantasy,” Sawaf told Anadolu Agency. He said Abbas controls the West Bank with an aggressive security force against the opposition, with this suppression reaching a peak with security officers killing opposition activist Nizar Banat in June 2021.
“He’s a dictator, and he doesn’t believe in democracy and exchange of power, he doesn’t believe in elections, and is never serious about national unity,” Sawaf emphasized.
The Palestinian elections were supposed to be held in the last year, but Abbas postponed them to an uncertain date.
Sawaf asserted that the only way to end the current political impasse would be via significant political strategies that include all Palestinian factions and leave “Abbas behind them if he decides to refuse to deal with their trials to find a solution.”
“He refused to form a unified national leadership and a genuine political partnership. This is clear evidences that he is a political dictator who chooses individuality in power and decision making,” he added.
The Israeli Jerusalem Post carried a full report on the Palestinian president. It starts by saying that January 9, 2022 marks 17 years since the last ever Palestinian Authority presidential elections, a vote that saw Mahmoud Abbas win over Mustafa Barghouti to begin his four-year term in office.
This was the second Palestinian Authority presidential election, with the first taking place nine years prior in 1996. The reason for this election was the death of the president, Yasser Arafat, who had passed away on November 11, 2004, the Jewish English daily adds. Following his death, Rawhi Fattuh served as interim president.
The election did not go without controversy and was boycotted by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. However, according to the BBC report at the time, around 1.1 million Palestinians registered to vote.
In addition, it says the Israeli Army made severe obstructions in the voting process with numerous roadblocks, closures, raids and clashes with security forces. Especially problematic was voting in east Jerusalem, where voters at the time claimed Israeli officials had prevented Palestinians from voting. The Jerusalem Post points out Abbas was seen at the time as more of a moderate compared to his predecessor, Arafat. In fact, he was seen by some as a possible partner with whom Israel could renew peace talks.
Abbas reigned as president for 17 years, despite his term having been meant to last just four. This is in part due to the conflict between Fatah and Hamas, with the latter having assumed control over the Gaza Strip in 2007, the Israeli daily adds.
Most recently, an election was announced for 2021, with the buildup seeing several individuals joining the race such as Abbas, Marwan Barghouti and Hamas. Ultimately, the election was indefinitely postponed by Abbas, who claimed Israel had refused to let Palestinians in east Jerusalem vote. This, he said Israel claimed, was due to the fact that Israel did not have a government at the time. Some, however, have pointed to the rising swell of support for Hamas as a reason for Abbas to cancel the elections according to the Israeli English daily.