Abbas said to tell Arab leaders he is retiring from politics
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Abbas said to tell Arab leaders he is retiring from politics

Aide says 80-year-old PA president will step down in stages from PLO, Fatah and PA, with replacements chosen by election

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a meeting with the Revolutionary Council of his ruling Fatah party, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 16, 2015. (AFP/Abbas Momani)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a meeting with the Revolutionary Council of his ruling Fatah party, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 16, 2015. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has informed the leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan that he wishes to give up political life, Fatah official Mohammad al Madani told the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat.

Al Madani told the paper that the 80-year-old Abbas intends step down in stages, with his replacements being chosen by election, Israel Radio said Saturday. The first step would be to replace him as chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), then as the head of the Fatah movement and finally as president of the PA.

Abbas resigned last month as head of the PLO’s Executive Committee in a bid to force new elections for the top body. Palestinian official Wassel Abu Yussef said that more than half of the 18-member committee had also stepped down.

According to Israel’s Channel 2 television, 11 of the 18 members of the executive committee, including Abbas himself, voted in favor of the resignation, which will subsequently warrant new elections. Abbas is believed to be seeking these elections in order to allow for more of his supporters to become members of the committee, Channel 2 said.

“The resignation of the president of the executive committee Mahmoud Abbas and more than half of its members has created a legal vacuum, and therefore the Palestine National Council has been asked to meet in one month to elect a new executive committee,” Yussef told AFP at the time.

Elected PA president in 2005, Abbas is now in the eleventh year of what was supposed to be a four-year term. He succeeded Yasser Arafat as the Palestinian leader following Arafat’s death in Paris in 2004. Abbas has threatened to resign or dissolve the Palestinian Authority several times since becoming president of the PA.

A high-ranking Fatah member from Ramallah told the Ynet website in an interview published Saturday that Abbas has reached the end of his patience with the stagnant peace process with Israel.

“He sees that there’s nothing on the diplomatic horizon, and that there are no returns for the peace he helps maintain,” the official said. “After the murder in Duma [of Palestinian baby Ali Dawabsha and his father by suspected Jewish terrorists], Abbas did everything to stop a violent outbreak. And what does he get in return? Nothing. Israel doesn’t even see him.”

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