Pro-Abbas Palestinians launch support campaign

Online effort seeks to voice backing for PA leader in his standoff with the US administration and Hamas

Khaled Abu Toameh is the Palestinian Affairs correspondent for The Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas attends a meeting with the Revolutionary Council of the ruling Fatah party on March 1, 2018, in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AFP/Abbas Momani)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas attends a meeting with the Revolutionary Council of the ruling Fatah party on March 1, 2018, in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

Supporters of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas launched an online campaign to voice support for him in his standoff with the US administration and Hamas.

The campaign, which carries the Arabic name “Fawadnak” (We Authorized You), was launched Thursday by a group called The Big National Campaign to Support President Mahmoud Abbas.

Organizers of the campaign, the first of its kind since Abbas’s election in 2005, said that more than one million people “interacted” with it in the first 48 hours through various social media platforms.

The organizers said that they see the campaign as a “referendum” on Abbas’s policies towards Hamas and the US administration.

Relations between Abbas’s West Bank-based PA and Hamas deteriorated after the bombing of the convoy of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in the northern Gaza Strip earlier this month. Neither Hamdallah nor Palestinian General Intelligence Chief Majed Faraj, who was part of the convoy, were hurt in the attack.

A vehicle damaged in the explosion that went off near Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah’s convoy is seen in the northern Gaza city of Beit Hanoun, on March 13, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mohammed Abed)

Abbas has since blamed Hamas for the apparent assassination attempt and demanded that the terror group hand over control of the Gaza Strip to his PA government. Hamas has denied any connection to the incident.

Last week, Hamas security forces killed Anas Abu Khoussa, a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip who it named as the main suspect in the convoy bombing. Several other suspects have been arrested by Hamas in connection with the attack.

“This campaign is aimed at showing support for President Abbas and his effort to achieve national unity and end the division [between the West Bank and Gaza Strip],” said one of the pro-Abbas campaign managers. “The campaign is also designed to express support for Abbas in his rejection of US President Donald Trump’s ‘deal of the century.'”

Trump has referred to his yet-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East as the “deal of the century.”

As part of the campaign, Palestinians are urged to sign a document reaffirming their allegiance to Abbas and support for his effort to “thwart” the Trump plan, achieve Palestinian unity, and end the dispute split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Abbas’s critics and political foes, meanwhile, launched a counter campaign under the title “Rafadnak” (We Rejected You). They accused Abbas of “destroying the Palestinian cause” and “collaboration” with Israel. They also held him responsible for the continued “humanitarian” crisis in the Gaza Strip.

A senior Palestinian official told the London-based Al Hayat newspaper Thursday that the US administration has decided to delay indefinitely the announcement of its long-awaited peace proposal after concluding that it cannot impose such a deal on the Palestinians.

The official said that the US administration had hoped that some of the Arab countries would replace the Palestinians at the negotiating table with Israel after the Trump plan was announced.

However, the official said, the Americans haven’t been able to find find any Arab party willing to accept the plan as long the Palestinians continued to reject it. “This is why the Americans have decided to shelve the plan,” the official added.

US officials have indicated that the Trump plan is being finalized and will be presented soon. There was no confirmation from the US of Thursday’s report.

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