Palestinian president Abbas has "no desire" to seek reelection

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said that he has "no desire" of running for re-election in a presidential vote he has called for January.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas at the 2007 World Economic Forum

In a televised address on Thursday, Abbas said his declaration is not up for debate or bargaining. Senior members of Abbas' Fatah party have been trying to persuade him to change his mind and take part in the election.

"I have told our brethren in the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organisation] ... that I have no desire to run in the forthcoming election," he said. "This decision is not a kind of compromise or a manoeuvre."

Abbas expressed frustration with the lack of progress in the peace process with Israel. He has threatened to step down in the past as a negotiating tactic. The Palestinian president said his goal of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict faces serious problems, but added he believed that it still remains possible.

Abbas has called for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held in the West Bank, where he is based, and in the Gaza Strip. But it not clear if the elections can proceed without the cooperation of Hamas, which is in control of Gaza.

"Since Oslo agreements in 1993, all these agreements are based on land and on peace and an end to Israel occupation of 1967. We've pledged with Israel to reach a two-state solution but month after month we've seen nothing but complacency and procrastination," he said.

In his address, Abbas criticised Hamas for refusing to sign a reconciliation agreement with Fatah mediated by Egypt. He called on the group to act in the national interest. Hamas won parliamentary elections in Gaza in 2006, and seized control of the territory a year later.

Palestinian officials said Mr. Abbas is upset with Washington for not putting more pressure on Israel to freeze Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. The Palestinians want the land for a future state.