Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been inundated with telephone calls and letters begging him to reverse his decision not to stand at the forthcoming Palestinian presidential elections , which have know been postponed. I was one of Mahmoud Abbas’s strongest defenders at a time when the Arab community had split into two bitter camps over the success of his presidency; with one side gloating over his lack of success, and the other side remaining silent. This [split] saw Hamas secede away from his authority, while the other side ignored him because Mahmoud Abbas is a respectable president in all his dealings, statements, and language. However despite [my previous strong defense], I truly believe that the time has now come for Mahmoud Abbas to leave office, because the situation is not developing.
Everybody must stop interfering in Mahmoud Abbas’s affairs, and stop interfering in the choosing of the next Palestinian President, regardless of whether Mahmoud Abbas decides to stand for re-election or not. The best thing for everybody is to allow the Palestinian people to choose who they want [for president].
When Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa urged President Mahmoud Abbas to go back on his decision and remain as president – that is, to stand for re-election on the Fatah electoral ticket – this was due to his realization that should Mahmoud Abbas leave office, this will result in a power vacuum and conflict among the Fatah leadership with regards to who will be his successor. Perhaps another Palestinian leader will come [to power] and decide that confronting Hamas is the most important priority. The Arab League Secretary-General and the rest of those who are in favor or Mahmoud Abbas retaining the presidency have raised this sense of responsibility in order to convince Abbas [to stand for re-election], but I do not think that Abbas should accept this. The best thing would be for Abbas to do what he has already publicly declared he will do and leave office, there are two important reasons why he should do this.
Firstly for the sake of his own credibility, Abbas has promised to leave office and he must keep his word and allow another Palestinian the chance to become president. It is vital that Abbas fulfils his commitment, whether he made this on the spur-of-the-moment, or whether this was part of political maneuvering; although this is something that he has explicitly denied, saying that he is not involved in [political] maneuvering or bargaining.
Secondly, and I believe this is the true motive which drove Mahmoud Abbas to take this decision in the first place, is the clear Arab indifference towards the Palestinian Authority [PA]. The majority of the aid received by the PA and the Palestinian people come from the Europeans and Americans, whereas only a small portion of this is provided by the Arabs.
Moreover, the PA, including Fatah, represents the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people. However Arab governments wish to stunt the PA’s growth, and forcibly impose Hamas’s irrational reconciliation terms on it when we all know that Hamas does not determine its own destiny, and is nothing more than a pawn in the regional game. If the Arabs are serious in their desire for the committed and moderate Mahmoud Abbas to be re-elected as President of the Palestinian people, they must offer him their clear support, because [if he is re-elected] he will be president at a time when the [Palestinian – Israeli peace] negotiations are taking place.
It is not in Mahmoud Abbas’s favor to be a weak president, as he is today as a result of Hamas and the Arabs, because his next term in office will see the final round in the negotiations, and the establishment of a Palestinian state. Therefore either Mahmoud Abbas must be respected as a president, or he must leave office.