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The Enigma That is Mahmoud Abbas - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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It was reported that President Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] had informed the Israelis that he is willing to incur the expenses of gas, electricity and other services to be provided in Gaza, which is on breaking point due to Hamas’ taking over of government. Despite that the soldiers of Ismail Haniyeh, the Prime Minister of Hamas, stamped on pictures of President Abu Mazen, killed his guards and deliberately sabotaged his office, Abu Mazen managed his anger and maintained silence instead of reacting to their insults with further insult. In fact, Abu Mazen left the door wide open for them to return to the Palestinian Authority and he is now mediating to help them in Gaza by delivering materials and providing services that are necessary for Palestinian citizens in Gaza.

The question is what is the truth about this man? Is he afraid or is he wise? Is he slow to act or is he acting wisely? Is he helpless or is he loving and tolerant?

The truth is that the Palestinian cause is lucky to have the support of a leader like Mahmoud Abbas. He has played a soothing role ever since the death of President Yasser Arafat who left many intense disputes behind him regarding who was to succeed him and to whom the powers of state, its internal and external relations should be assigned. Whatever has been said about Abu Mazen being weak and slow in taking action, he has been able to ease tensions and prevent a number of battles from taking place by voiding them of any justification, making the Palestinian authority calmer and more patient. These attributes are unusual in the Palestinian political field that is consistently inflamed by the smallest of matters, as proven by the chaos, wars, blood and cries that Hamas has caused ever since it assumed power.

Abu Mazen could have dismissed Ismail Haniyeh within the latter’s first month in power for many reasons, notably that he had invalidated the [previous] agreements signed by the Palestinian government which brought him to power in the first place and caused the suspension of international aid. Haniyeh had neither spread peace nor had he engaged in war and above all, only now, after all the devastation, his comrades say that they are ready to accept a Palestinian state according to the June 4 [1967] borders after they had starved Palestinians to death and caused so much bloodshed.

Abu Mazen could have ousted Hamas from government because he has also been elected as president and because he is placed at the top of the hierarchy of power above Haniyeh who sought to strip him of his authority. Abu Mazen could have sought a decision from the Palestinian people after the disagreement that had taken place regarding the formation of government instead of bearing the abuse of Hamas and its reckless adventures.

Most importantly, Abu Mazen had put up with absurdities and was patient with Hamas even when it embroiled itself in a bloodbath and caused an unprecedented massacre, killing dozens of staff and security men due to its insurgence against government. He could have issued a statement to criminalize insurgents and issued an order to kill them or sentence them to death in absentia or in their presence as President Bashar Assad would have done or Ahmadinejad or any of the comrades who are role models for Haniyeh. However, the man did not issue a single statement to defame them despite what they have done to him and to Palestinian people. On the contrary, Abu Mazen demanded that suffering be eliminated from the Gaza Strip even though this would have eliminated the suffering of his own opponents who would be the immediate beneficiaries. Abu Mazen prays that they are shown the right path, but people of the Hamas village are unaware. Now, it is President Mahmoud Abbas’ time.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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