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Middle east

President Abbas confirms he will not seek re-election

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-11-05

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has confirmed he will not seek re-election in a vote planned for January, citing frustration at the stalemate in peace talks with Israel.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has confirmed he will not be standing for re-election in a vote due to be held in January 2010.

The announcement follows feverish speculation that this effective resignation – by no means Abbas's first - was largely a negotiating tactic aimed at rallying Western and Arab support against Israel's refusal to halt West Bank settlement expansion.

The Western-backed Palestinian leader announced his plans at a meeting Thursday of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation in the occupied West Bank. 

"The president insists on not running in the upcoming election," an official who attended the meeting told Reuters.
 
Frustration at the peace process

According to another senior Palestinian official quoted by Reuters, Abbas’ decision was motivated by, "stagnation in the peace process and the continuation of (Israeli) settlement activities".

Abbas has rejected US calls to resume peace negotiations with Israel, saying he was sticking by his demand that Israel first halt all settlement expansion under a 2003 US-backed peace road map. 

Netanyahu has agreed to limit construction in settlements in the West Bank, territory Israel captured in the 1967 war, rather than a total freeze. He says Israel must accommodate the "natural growth" of Jewish families in the settlements.

But US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s announcement last weekend that Palestinians should enter peace talks first and resolve the settlement issue later was a serious blow to the Palestinian leader.

Hamas rejects peace moves

"Abbas has also been facing some difficult domestic issues, with Hamas saying they will not participate in elections scheduled for January,” says FRANCE 24’s Annette Young in Jerusalem.

Abbas had called for the January election last month after failing to reach a unity deal with rival Islamist group Hamas, which rejects any peace moves with Israel. 

Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006 and wrested control of the Gaza Strip from forces loyal to Abbas a year later.

Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said Abbas's decision whether or not to run was "internal Fatah business".

Date created : 2009-11-05

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