Abbas said he’s stepping down, Palestinian official claims

Find a successor within 10 days, PA president reportedly tells leadership

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash 90)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash 90)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced his intention to resign and called on government factions to find a successor, a Palestinian official on Wednesday told Saudi newspaper Alwatan.

“You have 10 days until I return from the United States. You must start the search for a new president,” the source quoted Abbas as saying at a meeting of the PA leadership earlier this week.

Possible factors in Abbas’s reported decision could include the Palestinian Authority’s financial hardships, the growing rift between the Hamas-ruled Gaza and the PA-run West Bank, and the stalemate in the peace process with Israel. Still, Abbas has repeatedly been reported to have threatened to resign over the years.

Hamas and Fatah have been at odds since 2007, when the former violently took control of the Gaza Strip following an electoral victory by the Islamist party the year before. Recent efforts at reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas have failed, as the PA continues to arrest Hamas operatives in the West Bank and Hamas blocks preparations for nationwide elections in the Gaza Strip.

On Monday Abbas expressed concern regarding the apparent rapprochement between Hamas and Egypt following a visit by Hamas leadership to Cairo.

Earlier in September, Abbas announced that government employees will not receive full salaries this month because donor countries have not delivered promised aid. The news, coming amid protests against PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad over mounting commodity prices and deteriorating economic conditions, sparked further discontent among the Palestinian people.

The US and Arab countries have failed to come through this year with the aid money they have pledged, leaving the PA in a budgetary shortfall that has contributed to the rising prices and the delays in the payment of government salaries.

Associated Press and Elhanan Miller contributed to this report.

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