Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, is the President of Palestine who has been leading the State of Palestine and Palestinian National Authority after the death of Yasser Arafat in 2004. He was elected as the president of Palestine in 09 January 2005. He has been the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) since 11 November 2004. He co-founded Fatah with Arafat. In the early days of the movement, he became respected for his clean and simple living. . He is also an author of several books like – The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism.( al-Wajh al-Akhar: al-‘Alaqat as-Sirriya bayna an-Naziya wa’s-Sihyuniya)
Mahmoud Abbas served as the first Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority from March to September 2003. Before being named prime minister, he led the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department.
On 23 November 2008, Abbas was chosen as the President of the State of Palestine by the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Central Standing Council.
Mahmoud Abbas was born on March 26, 1935, in Zefat, Palestine. In the mid-1950s, Abbas became heavily involved in Palestinian politics. In 1961, he was recruited to become a member of Fatah. In 1968, Abbas became a member of the Palestinian National Council. In 1980, he became head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s international and national relations department. He was elected as the Council’s secretary general in 1996, informally confirming his position as Arafat’s deputy. In January 1993, Abbas became the first PLO official to visit Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War.
Abbas’ contacts with Israeli leftists throughout the years gave him a reputation as a PLO dove, and he was chosen to head the Palestinian negotiating team dispatched by Arafat to the secret peace talks with Israel in Oslo, Norway. It was Abbas who signed the Oslo Accords with Israel in September 1993, on behalf of the PLO.
In 1995, Abbas returned to the Palestinian territories for the first time in 47 years, taking up residence in Gaza, and Ramallah in the West Bank. By early 2003, as Israel and the United States refused to negotiate with Yasser Arafat, Abbas began to emerge as a candidate for a more visible leadership role. As one of the few remaining founding members of Fatah, he had some degree of credibility within the Palestinian cause. Also he is being considered as the leader who maintains good relation with world leaders.
In March 2003, he was named the first Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority. In the aftermath of Arafat’s death, Abbas was elected president of the Palestinian Authority on January 9, 2005.
In June 2007, Abbas dissolved a Hamas-led unity government, declared a state of emergency, and appointed Salam Fayyad as prime minister. In January 2009, Abbas extended his term as president and continued his leadership for the freedom and individual state of Palestine. Under his leadership, US and European money has flowed into the West Bank to build up security forces which he has used to crack down on militant activity and Hamas’s political infrastructure.
Mr Abbas, opposed to armed struggle and committed to pursuing an independent Palestinian state through negotiations, has enjoyed strong support from the international community. Mr Abbas has walked a delicate line between appeasing Israeli and US demands that he improves security and participates in peace negotiations, and popular Palestinian pressure for genuine political and economic progress.