(Wikipedia) - Mahmoud Abbas For the Arab Israeli footballer, see Mahmoud Abbas (footballer).
2nd President of the State of Palestine
|Assumed office 8 May 2005 Acting: 8 May 2005 – 23 November 2008 |
|Yasser Arafat |
President of the Palestinian National Authority
|Assumed office 15 January 2005 |
|Ahmed Qurei Nabil Shaath (Acting) Ahmed Qurei Ismail Haniyeh Salam Fayyad Rami Hamdallah |
|Rawhi Fattouh (Acting) |
Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization
|Assumed office 29 October 2004 Acting: 29 October 2004 – 11 November 2004 |
|Yasser Arafat |
Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority
|In office 19 March 2003 – 6 September 2003 |
|Yasser Arafat |
|Position established |
|Ahmad Qurei |
|(1935-03-26) 26 March 1935 (age 79) Safed, Mandatory Palestine |
|Amina Abbas |
|Damascus University Patrice Lumumba Peoples'' Friendship University |
|Sunni Islam |
|*Abbas''s term as President expired 15 January 2009, since then Aziz Duwaik has been recognised as President by the Haniyeh government in the Gaza Strip, while Abbas is recognised as President by the Fayyad government in the West Bank and all the states that recognise the independence of Palestine, as well as the UN. |
Mahmoud Abbas (Arabic: مَحْمُود عَبَّاس, Maḥmūd ʿAbbās; born 26 March 1935), also known by the kunya Abu Mazen (Arabic: أَبُو مَازِن, ''Abū Māzin), is a Palestinian statesman. He has been the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) since 11 November 2004 and has been President of the State of Palestine since 15 January 2005. Abbas is a member of the Fatah (فتح Fataḥ) party.
Mahmoud Abbas was elected to serve until 9 January 2009, but due to Palestinian Internal conflict he unilaterally extended his term for another year and continues in office even years after that second deadline expired. As a result of this, Fatah''s main rival, Hamas announced that it would not recognise the extension or view Abbas as rightful president. Abbas was chosen as the President of the State of Palestine by the Palestine Liberation Organization''s Central Council on 23 November 2008, a job he had held unofficially since 8 May 2005. Abbas served as the first Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority from March to October 2003 when he resigned citing lack of support from Israel and the United States as well as "internal incitement" against his government. Before being named prime minister, Abbas led the PLO''s Negotiations Affairs Department. One of his chief negotiators is Saeb Erekat. Contents
- 1 Personal life
- 2 Political activism
- 3 Political career
- 4 2005 presidential election
- 5 Presidency
- 6 Corruption allegations
- 7 Relations with Israel
- 8 Relations with foreign leaders
- 9 Published works
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
Mahmoud Abbas was born in Safed, Mandatory Palestine in the Galilee region. His family fled to Syria during the 1948 Palestine war. Before going to Egypt Abbas graduated from the University of Damascus where he studied law.
Abbas later entered graduate studies at the Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, where he earned a Candidate of Sciences degree (the Soviet equivalent of a PhD). The theme of his doctoral dissertation was "The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism".
He is married to Amina Abbas and they have had three sons. The eldest, Mazen Abbas, ran a building company in Doha and died in Qatar of a heart attack in 2002 at the age of 42. The kunya of Abu Mazen means "father of Mazen". Their second son is Yasser Abbas, a Canadian businessman who was named after former PA leader Yasser Arafat. The youngest son is Tareq, a business executive.Abbas with President of the United States George W. Bush and Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon at the Red Sea Summit in Aqaba, Jordan, 4 June 2003Political activism
In the mid-1950s, Abbas became heavily involved in underground Palestinian politics, joining a number of exiled Palestinians in Qatar, where he was Director of Personnel in the emirate''s Civil Service. While there, in 1961, he was recruited to become a member of Fatah, founded by Yasser Arafat and 5 other Palestinians in Kuwait in the late 1950s. At the time, Arafat was establishing the groundwork of Fatah by enlisting wealthy Palestinians in Qatar, Kuwait, and other Gulf States.
Abu Daoud, who planned the 1972 Munich massacre, the hostage-taking of members of the Israeli team at the Munich Olympic Games which ended with the murder of eleven Israeli athletes and coaches and a West German policeman, wrote that funds for the operation were provided by Abbas, though without knowing what the money would be used for.
He was among the first members of Fatah to call for talks with moderate Israelis, doing so in 1977. In a 2012 interview he recalled: " because we took up arms, we were in a position to put them down with credibility".
In 1985, he temporarily went into hiding in Yugoslavia upon avoiding international justice mechanisms in Rome, Italy.
At the same time he has performed diplomatic duties, presenting a moderating face for PLO policies. Abbas was the first PLO official to visit Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War in January 1993 to mend fences with the Gulf countries for the PLO''s support of Iraq during the Persian Gulf War. At the 1993 peace accord with Israel, Abbas was the signatory for the PLO on 13 September 1993. He published a memoir, Through Secret Channels: The Road to Oslo (1995).
In 1995, he and Israeli negotiator Yossi Beilin wrote the Beilin-Abu Mazen agreement, which was meant to be the framework for a future Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Political careerAbbas with Sharon and Bush in Aqaba, Jordan, 4 June 2003
By early 2003, as Israel and the United States refused to negotiate with Yasser Arafat, Abbas began to emerge as a candidate for a more visible leadership role. As one of the few remaining founding members of Fatah, he had some degree of credibility within the Palestinian cause, and his candidacy was bolstered by the fact that other high-profile Palestinians were for various reasons not suitable (the most notable, Marwan Barghouti, was under arrest in an Israeli jail after being convicted of multiple murders). Abbas''s reputation as a pragmatist garnered him favor with the West and some members of the Palestinian legislature. Under international pressure, on 19 March 2003 Arafat appointed Abbas Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority.
However, a struggle for power between Arafat and Abbas followed. Abbas'' term as prime minister was characterised by numerous conflicts between him and Arafat over the distribution of power. The United States and Israel accused Arafat of undermining Abbas and his government. Abbas hinted he would resign if not given more control over the administration. In early September 2003, he confronted the Palestinian parliament over this issue.
Abbas came into conflict with Palestinian militant groups, notably the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement and Hamas because his pragmatic policies were opposed to their hard-line approach. Initially he pledged not to use force against the militants in the interest of avoiding a civil war, and attempted negotiation. This was partially successful, resulting in a pledge from the two groups to honor a unilateral Palestinian cease-fire. However, continuing violence and Israeli "target killings" of known leaders forced Abbas to pledge a crackdown in order to uphold the Palestinian Authority''s side of the Road map for peace. This led to a power struggle with Arafat over control of the Palestinian security services; Arafat refused to release control to Abbas, thus preventing him from using them on the militants. Abbas resigned as prime minister in October 2003, citing lack of support from Israel and the United States as well as "internal incitement" against his government. 2005 presidential election
|Part of a series on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict |
Israeli–Palestinian peace process
Camp David Accords
|1993 / 95 |
Wye River Memorandum
Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum
Camp David Summit (parameters)
Agreement on Movement and Access
|Primary concerns |
- Final borders
- Israeli settlements
- Palestinian refugees
- Security concerns
|Secondary concerns |
- Israeli West Bank barrier
- Jewish state
- Palestinian political violence
- Places of worship
|International brokers |
- One-state solution
- Two-state solution
- Allon Plan
- Arab Peace Initiative
- Geneva Initiative
- Lieberman Plan
- Three-state solution
- Israeli unilateral plans
|Projects / groups / NGOs |
- Peace-orientated projects
- Valley of Peace
- Middle East economic integration
- Alliance for Middle East Peace
- Peres Center for Peace
After Yasser Arafat''s death Mahmoud Abbas was seen, at least by Fatah, as his natural successor. On 25 November 2004, Abbas was endorsed by Fatah''s Revolutionary Council as its preferred candidate for the presidential election, scheduled for 9 January 2005. On 14 December Abbas called for an end to violence in the Second Intifada and a return to peaceful resistance. Abbas told the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that "the use of arms has been damaging and should end." However, he refused, or was not able, to disarm Palestinian militants and use force against groups designated as terrorist organizations.
With Israeli forces arresting and restricting the movement of other candidates, Hamas'' boycott of the election, and his campaign being given 94% of the Palestinian electoral campaign coverage on TV, Abbas'' election was virtually ensured, and on 9 January Abbas was elected with 62% of the vote as President of the Palestinian National Authority.
In his speech, he addressed a crowd of supporters chanting "a million shahids", stating: "I present this victory to the soul of Yasser Arafat and present it to our people, to our martyrs and to 11,000 prisoners". He also called for Palestinian groups to end the use of arms against Israelis. Presidency
Despite Abbas'' call for a peaceful solution, attacks by militant groups continued after his election, in a direct challenge to his authority. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine launched a raid in Gaza on 12 January that killed one and wounded three military personnel in Gaza. On 13 January Palestinians from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs'' Brigades, Hamas, and the Popular Resistance Committees launched a suicide attack on the Karni crossing, killing six Israelis. As a result, Israel shut down the damaged terminal and broke off relations with Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, stating that Abbas must now show a gesture of peace by attempting to stop such attacks.
Abbas was formally sworn in as the Chairman of the Palestinian National Authority in a ceremony held on 15 January in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
On 9 August 2005 he announced that legislative elections, originally scheduled for 17 July, would take place in January 2006. On 15 January 2006 he declared that despite unrest in Gaza, he would not change the set date of the elections (25 January), unless Israel decided to prevent Palestinians in East Jerusalem from voting. Hamas won a majority of votes in this vote. Corruption allegations
Allegations officials of the Palestinian Authority, including Mahmoud Abbas have systematically embezzled public funds are frequent.
Abbas''s mentor and predecessor, Yasser Arafat, was accused of embezzling billions of dollars of Palestinian money. This perceived corruption of the Fatah leadership is believed to have contributed to a convincing win by Hamas in the January 2006 parliamentary election. Fatah leaders were accused of siphoning funds from ministry budgets, passing out patronage jobs, accepting favors and gifts from suppliers and contractors.
The source for specific allegations against Abbas was one of Arafat''s most trusted aides, Mohammed Rashid, accused by the PA of embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars, who threatened to expose corruption scandals in the Palestinian Authority. For many years, Rashid served as Arafat''s financial advisor and was given a free hand to handle hundreds of millions of dollars that were poured on the Palestinian Authority and the PLO by US, EU and Arab donors. According to Rashid Abbas''s net worth was $US100 million
On July 10, 2012 Abbas and his sons were attacked, in the US Congress, for their alleged corruption. The debate was entitled Chronic Kleptocracy: Corruption Within the Palestinian Political Establishment In his testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia, Elliott Abrams stated that "Corruption is an insidious destroyer not only of Palestinian public finance but of faith in the entire political system. And it has certainly had an impact on potential donors. I can tell you from my own experience, as an American official seeking financial assistance for the PA from Gulf Arab governments, that I was often told “why should we give them money when their officials will just steal it?”"
The conspicuous wealth of Abbas''s own sons, Yasser and Tarek, has been noted in Palestinian society since at least 2009, when Reuters first published a series of articles tying the sons to several business deals, including a few that had U.S. taxpayer support. In a Foreign Policy article author Jonathan Schanzer suggested four ways in which the Abbas family has become rich. They include monopolies on American made cigarettes sold in the territories; USAid funding; public works projects, such as road and school construction, on behalf of the Palestinian Authority and special preferences for retail enterprises. It was strongly implied that the sons lineage was the main credential in receiving these contracts.
One of his sons, Yasser Abbas (but not brother Tarek or father Mahmoud) filed a $10 million libel lawsuit in the United States District Court, District of Columbia, in September 2012 against Foreign Policy Group LLC and Schanzer alleging "false and defamatory statements. It seems every statement will be challenged, in a jury trial, if the court accepts jurisdiction." Abbas also accused Schanzer of not contacting him for comment and of relying on untrustworthy sources of information. Abbas accused Schanzer of acting with malice and pursuing an agenda against the brothers, even though he also contended that he''s a private citizen and not a public figure, so we wouldn''t need to prove actual malice to win. In reply, the magazine has argued that Abbas’ suit is aimed at intimidating his critics and stopping debate. “In the final analysis, the commentary falls well within the protections of both the First Amendment and the common law,” lawyers for the magazine assert.
Some analysts believed the Abbas family would not proceed with the case as it would allow Foreign Policy and Schanzer to dig into deep into the PA’s secret finances and records. However, the case proceeded.
In September 2013 U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan dismissed the suit using D.C.''s anti-SLAPP measure. Sullivan determined the lawsuit intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandoned their criticisms or opposition.
Sullivan summed up:
"The defendants have made a prima facie showing that Mr. Abbas''s defamation claim arises from an act in furtherance of the right of advocacy on issues of the public interest, and that Mr. Abbas has failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits of his defamation claim because the contested statements are either not capable of defamatory meaning or are protected statements of opinion." .
The decision has been appealed. Relations with IsraelAbbas with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.
On 23 January 2006, Israeli radio reported that Abbas had secured a thirty-day ceasefire from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. On 12 February lone Palestinians attacked Israel settlements and Abbas quickly fired some of his security officers for not stopping the attacks in a ceasefire.
On 9 April 2006, Abbas said that the killing of three Palestinians in southern Gaza by Israeli soldiers is a deliberate violation of the declared ceasefire deal. "This violation is made on purpose," Abbas said in a written statement sent to reporters in the West Bank capital of Ramallah. Abbas made the statement shortly after three Palestinian teenage boys were shot dead by Israeli troops in the southern Gaza town of Rafah. Israel claimed they thought the boys were attempting to smuggle weapons, while Palestinians claimed a group of boys were playing soccer and three of them went to retrieve the ball near the border fence.
In response to the teens'' deaths, Abbas said, "The Palestinian National Authority will not turn a blind eye to the shedding of the blood of our people and our children. We can never accept opening fire at our children who pose no danger at all." Abbas said the Palestinian children "are as precious to their parents as the Israeli children to their parents." Condemning the Israeli shooting as "unjustified", Abbas urged Israel to take serious actions to show commitment to the truce.
In May 2006, Abbas travelled to the White House and met with his American counterpart, George W. Bush. Bush, in return for Abbas'' crackdown on terrorists, pledged 50 million USD in aid to the Palestinian Authority and reiterated the US pledge for a free Palestinian state. It was the first direct aid the United States has given to them, as previous donations have gone through non-governmental organizations. The next day Prime Minister Paul Martin of Canada pledged 9.5 million CAD in new aid for judicial reform and housing projects, monitors for the coming Palestinian elections, border management and scholarships for Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon.
On 25 July 2006 he announced that he would move his office to Gaza until the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops in order to coordinate the Palestinian side of the withdrawal, mediating between the different factions.
Efraim Sneh, a former minister in the Israeli cabinet, has called Abbas the most "courageous partner we have had." He wrote that on 19 April 2006, following the elections in Israeli but before Ehud Olmert was sworn in, he met with Abbas and Abbas requested that negotiations resume immediately with the new Israeli government and that he be put in touch right away with a contact person to be appointed by the prime minister. Sneh reported that he immediately conveyed the substance of their meeting to the prime minister''s office, but was told that the prime minister had no interest in the matter. Despite this, Sneh mentions that the Annapolis Conference convened a year and a half later, and that in September 2008, Prime Minister Olmert and Abbas came to understandings that would lead to an actual agreement.
On 16 January 2006, Abbas said that he would not run for office again at the end of his current term.
On 25 May, Abbas gave Hamas a ten-day deadline to accept the 1967 ceasefire lines.
On 2 June, Abbas again announced that if Hamas did not approve the prisoners'' document—which calls for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict according to the 1967 borders—within two days, he would present the initiative as a referendum. This deadline was subsequently extended until 10 June 2006. Hamas spokesmen stated that a change in their stance would not occur, and that Abbas is not constitutionally permitted to call a referendum, especially so soon after the January elections.
Abbas warned Hamas on 8 October 2006 that he would call new legislative elections if it did not accept a coalition government. To recognize Israel was a condition he has presented for a coalition. But it was not clear if Abbas had the power to call new elections.
On 16 December 2006, Abbas called for new legislative elections, to bring an end to the parliamentary stalemate between Fatah and Hamas in forming a national coalition government.Abbas meets with then United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
On 17 March 2007, a unity government was formed incorporating members of both Hamas and Fatah, with Ismail Haniyeh as Prime Minister and independent politicians taking many key portfolios.
On 14 June 2007, Abbas dissolved the Hamas-led unity government of Haniyeh, declared a state of emergency, and appointed Salam Fayyad in his place. This followed action by Hamas armed forces to take control of Palestinian Authority positions controlled by Fatah militias. The appointment of Fayyad to replace Haniyeh has been challenged as illegal, because under the Palestinian Basic Law, the president may dismiss a sitting prime minister, but may not appoint a replacement without the approval of the Palestinian Legislative Council. According to the law, until a new prime minister is thus appointed, the outgoing prime minister heads a caretaker government. Fayyad''s appointment was never placed before, or approved by the Legislative Council. For this reason, Haniyeh the Hamas prime minister has continued to operate in Gaza, and is recognised by a large number of Palestinians as the legitimate acting prime minister. Anis al-Qasem, a constitutional lawyer who drafted the Basic Law, is among those who publicly declared Abbas'' appointment of Fayyad to be illegal.
On 18 June 2007, the European Union promised to resume direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, Abbas dissolved the National Security Council, a sticking point in the defunct unity government with Hamas. That same day, the United States decided to end its fifteen-month embargo on the Palestinian Authority and resume aid, attempting to strengthen Abbas''s West Bank government. A day later, the Fatah Central Committee cut off all ties and dialogue with Hamas, pending the return of Gaza.
On 2 March 2008, Abbas stated he was suspending peace talks with Israel, while Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed to press on with military operations against militants who have been launching home-made rockets into southern Israel.
On 20 May 2008, Abbas stated he would resign from his office if the current round of peace talks had not yielded an agreement in principle "within six months". He also stated that the current negotiations were, in effect, deadlocked: "So far, we have not reached an agreement on any issue. Any report indicating otherwise is simply not true."
On 9 January 2009, Abbas term as president, at least as he was originally elected, ended. Abbas extended his term for another year, stating the Basic Law gave him the right to do so, so he could align the next presidential and parliamentary elections. Pointing to the Palestinian constitution, Hamas disputes the validity of this move, and considers Abbas'' term to have ended, in which case Abdel Aziz Duwaik, Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council has become acting president. Abbas remains as the president even though his one year extended term has expired.
In 2011, Abbas stated that the Arab rejection of the United Nations Partition Plan in 1947 was a mistake he hoped to rectify. Relations with foreign leaders
In May 2009, he welcomed Pope Benedict XVI to the West Bank, who supported Abbas'' goal of a Palestinian State. Also in May 2009, Abbas made a visit to Canada, where he met with foreign affairs minister Lawrence Cannon and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The same year Abbas visited Bolivia and met Hugo Chavez.
In February 2010, Abbas visited Japan for the third time as Palestinian President. In this visit he met Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. He also visited Hiroshima, the first such visit by a Palestinian leader, and spoke about the suffering of Hiroshima, which he compared to the suffering of the Palestinians.
In July 2012, Abbas accused former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of fabricating a conversation between them and denied such a conversation took place. The specific quote he denied was, "I can’t tell four million Palestinians only five thousand of them can go home," regarding the issue of Palestinian refugees. Abbas further said, "I’m not calling her a liar... I am saying we never had that conversation." In response, Rice denied that she fabricated it. Her chief of staff, Georgia Godfrey, wrote, "Dr. Rice stands by her account of the conversation and what she wrote in her book." Published works Main article: The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism
The Connection between the Nazis and the Leaders of the Zionist Movement 1933 - 1945 is the title of Mahmoud Abbas'' CandSc thesis, completed in 1982 at the Peoples'' Friendship University of Russia, and defended at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. In 1984 it was published as a book in Arabic titled "The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism" (Arabic: al-Wajh al-Akhar: al-''Alaqat as-Sirriya bayna an-Naziya wa''s-Sihyuniya).
The dissertation and book discussed topics such as the Haavara Agreement, by which the Third Reich agreed with the Jewish Agency to facilitate Jewish emigration to Palestine, in conjunction with the UK. Some content of his thesis has been considered as Holocaust denial by critics, especially the parts disputing the accepted number of deaths in the Holocaust as well as the accusations that Zionist agitation was the cause of the Holocaust, a charge that he denies in an interview stating that "The Holocaust was a terrible, unforgiveable crime against the Jewish nation, a crime against humanity that cannot be accepted by humankind. The Holocaust was a terrible thing and nobody can claim I denied it.". In 2013, he reasserted the veracity of the contents of his thesis which stated "the Zionist movement had ties with the Nazis". The following year, he described the Holocaust as "the most heinous crime in modern history."
- Through Secret Channels (1995) Memoirs of the Oslo agreement