MAHMOUD ABBAS (Arabic : مَحْمُود عَبَّاس,
Maḥmūd ʿAbbās; born 26 March 1935), also known by the kunya ABU
MAZEN (Arabic : أَبُو مَازِن, 'Abū Māzin), is the
President of the State of Palestine and Palestinian National Authority
. He has been the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization
PLO ) since 11 November 2004, and Palestinian president since 15
January 2005 (
Palestinian National Authority
Palestinian National Authority since 15 January 2005,
State of Palestine
State of Palestine since 8 May 2005). Abbas is a member of the
Abbas was elected on 9 January 2005 to serve as President of the
Palestinian National Authority
Palestinian National Authority until 9 January 2009, but extended his
term until the next election in 2010, citing the
PLO constitution, and
on December 16, 2009 was voted into office indefinitely by the PLO
Central Council. As a result, Fatah's main rival,
Hamas , announced
that it would not recognize the extension or view Abbas as the
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
Abbas served as the first Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority
from March to September 2003. Before being named prime minister,
Abbas led the
PLO Negotiations Affairs Department .
* 1 Personal life
* 2 Political activism
* 3 Political career
* 4 2005 Presidential election
* 5 Presidency
* 6 Corruption allegations
* 7 Relations with
* 8 Relations with
* 9 Relations with foreign leaders
* 10 Published works and statements about the Holocaust
* 11 References
* 12 Further reading
* 13 External links
Mahmoud Abbas was born on 26 March 1935 in
Safed , in the Galilee
Mandatory Palestine (now
Israel ). His family fled to Syria
1948 Palestine war
1948 Palestine war . Before going to
Egypt , Abbas
graduated from the
University of Damascus
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). His doctoral dissertation was "The
Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism ", a
conspiracy theory about the Holocaust .
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 2001 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 has eight
grandchildren, six of whom are part of the
Seeds of Peace initiative
bringing them in touch with young Israelis. Abbas with President
of the United States
George W. Bush
George W. Bush and Prime Minister of
Sharon at the Red Sea Summit in
Jordan , 4 June 2003
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
the late 1950s. At the time, Arafat was establishing the groundwork
Fatah by enlisting wealthy Palestinians in Qatar, Kuwait, and other
Gulf States .
Abu Daoud , part of the funds raised by Abbas were used,
without the latter's knowledge, to implement the 1972 Munich massacre
. 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
Abbas has performed diplomatic duties, presenting a moderating
contrast to the PLO's "revolutionary"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 after the PLO's support of Iraq
during the Persian
Gulf War strained relations. In the
Oslo I Accord ,
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.
It emerged in September 2016 that Abbas may have once worked for the
KGB , as early as 1985 in Damascus, according to a document uncovered
Mitrokhin Archive , where he is registered as agent "Krotov".
Palestinian officials replied that at the time in question, the PLO
collaborated with Moscow, and that Abbas was their liaison man in the
Palestinian-Soviet friendship foundation.
Ariel Sharon and
George W. Bush
George W. Bush in
Jordan , 4
By early 2003, as
Israel and the United States refused to negotiate
with Yasser Arafat, it was thought that Abbas would be a candidate for
the kind of leadership role envisaged by both countries. 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
a prisoner in Israeli jail after having been convicted on charges of
being responsible for multiple murders by an Israeli court). 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
Palestinian National Authority . According to
Gilbert Achcar , the
United States imposed Abbas on Arafat, the democratically elected
leader, though the majority of Palestinians thought of the former as a
A struggle for power between Arafat and Abbas ensued. Abbas's 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
Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement and
Hamas because his pragmatic
policies were opposed to their hard-line approach. He resigned as
leader of the
PLO on 22 August 2015. 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 "targeted
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
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 September 2003, citing lack of support
Israel and the United States as well as "internal incitement"
against his government.
He announced his resignation as leader of the
PLO on 22 August 2015.
As of December 2015, he was still acting as Chairman , pending
approval by the
Palestinian National Council .
2005 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
After Yasser Arafat's death, 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 (by the Israeli government) as
With Israeli forces arresting and restricting the movement of other
candidates, Hamas's boycott of the election, and his campaign being
given 94% of the Palestinian electoral campaign coverage on TV,
Abbas's election was virtually ensured, and on 9 January Abbas was
elected with 62% of the vote as President of the Palestinian National
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.
Abbas with U.S. President
Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., 3
Despite Abbas's call for a peaceful solution, attacks by militant
groups continued after his election, in a direct challenge to his
Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine
launched a raid in Gaza on 12 January 2005, that killed one and
wounded three Israeli military personnel. 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
President of the Palestinian National Authority
President of the Palestinian National Authority in a ceremony held on
15 January, in the
West Bank town of
On 9 August 2005, he announced that legislative elections ,
originally scheduled for 17 July, would take place in January 2006. On
20 August, he set the elections for 25 January.
On 15 January 2006, he declared that despite unrest in Gaza, he would
not change the set date of the elections, unless
Israel decided to
prevent Palestinians in
East Jerusalem from voting.
Hamas won a
majority of votes in this vote.
On 16 January 2006, Abbas said that he would not run for office again
at the end of his term.
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
Hamas disputes the validity of this move,
and considers Abbas's term to have ended, in which case Abdel Aziz
Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council has become
On 16 December 2009, the leadership of the Palestinian Central
Council announced an indefinite extension of Abbas's term as
president. Since then, Abbas has remained president of the
Fatah-controlled areas of the State of Palestine.
There are frequent allegations that officials of the Palestinian
Authority , including Abbas, have systematically embezzled public
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
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 10 July 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
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's 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 in too deep
into the PA's secret finances and records. However, the case
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. The decision has been appealed.
As part of the 2016
Panama Papers data leak, it was revealed that
Abbas's son Tareq Abbas holds $1 million in shares of an offshore
company associated with the
Palestinian Authority .
RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL
Abbas with President
Barack Obama in the
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 during the ceasefire.
On 9 April 2006, Abbas said that the killing of three Palestinians in
southern Gaza by Israeli soldiers was 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
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. Abbas meets with then United States Secretary of
Condoleezza Rice and then Israeli Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert .
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
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
Israel 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 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. Abbas meets with then
U.S. Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu .
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."
Abbas has since confirmed that he turned down an Israeli offer for a
Palestinian state on nearly 95% of the West Bank. In September 2008,
Olmert had presented him with a map that delineated the borders of the
proposed PA state, for which
Israel would annex 6.3 percent of the
West Bank and compensate the Palestinians with 5.8 percent (taken from
pre-1967 Israel), which Abbas stated he rejected out of hand,
insisting instead to demarcate the June 4, 1967 borders of Palestine.
He said that Olmert did not give a map of the proposal and that he
could not sign without seeing the proposal. Abbas also said that he
was not an expert on maps and pointed to Olmert's corruption
investigation (he was later convicted). Abbas said in October 2011
that he made a counteroffer to let
Israel annex 1.9% of the West Bank.
According to an
International Crisis Group
International Crisis Group report, most Israeli
officials "do not see as a peace partner but consider a
nonthreatening, violence-abhorring, strategic asset."
On June 23, 2016, Abbas repeated to the
European Parliament a false
press report that rabbis in
Israel were calling for Palestinian wells
to be poisoned. Abbas retracted the statement three days later,
acknowledging that the claim was not true and stating that he 'didn't
intend to do harm to Judaism or to offend Jewish people around the
world'. Israel's Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu said Abbas's
statement spread a blood libel .
RELATIONS WITH HAMAS
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.
stated that their stance would not change, and that Abbas is not
constitutionally permitted to call a referendum, especially so soon
after the January elections.
Hamas on 8 October 2006, that he would call new
legislative elections if it did not accept a coalition government. To
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
forming a national coalition government.
On 17 March 2007, a unity government was formed incorporating members
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
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
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's appointment of Fayyad to be illegal.
On 18 June 2007, the European Union promised to resume direct aid to
the Palestinian Authority, and 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
West Bank government. A day later, the Fatah
Central Committee cut off all ties and dialogue with Hamas, pending
the return of Gaza.
RELATIONS WITH FOREIGN LEADERS
Vladimir Putin , and
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan opened
Moscow's Cathedral Mosque , 23 September 2015.
In May 2009, he welcomed Pope
Benedict XVI to the West Bank, who
supported Abbas's goal of a Palestinian State. Also in May 2009,
Abbas made a visit to Canada, where he met with foreign affairs
Lawrence Cannon and Prime Minister Stephen Harper . The same
year Abbas visited
Venezuela 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 AND STATEMENTS ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST
Main article: The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism
The Connection between the Nazis and the Leaders of the Zionist
Movement 1933–1945 is the title of Abbas's CandSc thesis, which was
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-Ākhar: Al-'Alāqat aL-Sirriyya bayn
al-Nāzīyya wa al-Sahyūniyya).
The dissertation and book discussed topics such as the Haavara
Agreement , in which the Jewish Agency signed a pact with Nazi Germany
to facilitate Jewish emigration to Palestine. Some content of his
thesis has been considered as
Holocaust denial by some Jewish groups,
especially where he disputed the accepted number for Jewish deaths in
the Holocaust and claimed Zionist agitation had been the cause of the
In his 1984 book, based on the dissertation, Abbas dismissed as a
"myth" and "fantastic lie" that six million Jews had died in the
Holocaust, writing that the real figure of Jews killed by Germans
was at most "890,000" or "a few hundred thousand". The number of
such deaths, he claimed, had been exaggerated for political purposes,
it seems that the interest of the Zionist movement ... is to inflate
this figure so that their gains will be greater. This led them to
emphasize this figure in order to gain the solidarity of
international public opinion with Zionism. Many scholars have debated
the figure of six million and reached stunning conclusions—fixing
the number of Jewish victims at only a few hundred thousand.
According to the
Anti-Defamation League , when asked about this
assertion in his book, Abbas replied some 10 years later that he had
written the book when the Palestinians were at war with Israel, adding
that "today I would not have made such remarks." In a March 2006
Haaretz , Abbas stated,
I wrote in detail about the Holocaust and said I did not want to
discuss numbers. I quoted an argument between historians in which
various numbers of casualties were mentioned. One wrote there were 12
million victims and another wrote there were 800,000. I have no desire
to argue with the figures.
The Holocaust was a terrible, unforgivable
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 2012, Abbas told
Al Mayadeen , a Beirut TV station affiliated with
Iran and Hezbollah, that he "challenges anyone who can deny that the
Zionist movement had ties with the Nazis before World War II". In
2013, he reasserted that "the Zionist movement had ties with the
Nazis". The following year, he described the Holocaust as "the most
heinous crime in modern history."
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