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FOCUS

Our Focus programme brings you exclusive reports from around the world. From Monday to Friday at 7.45 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2009-11-18

A faltering peace progress

The US has voiced dismay at the approval of new settlement builds in annexed east Jerusalem, which once again stalls the fragile Mideast peace process. Tensions are already high ahead of upcoming presidential elections in the Palestinian territories.

Today's guests are Gershon Baskin, of the Israel/Palestine Centre for Research and Information, and Hind Khoury, general delegate for Palestine in France.


 

A tired but relieved Mahmoud Abbas has finally announced he had no desire to stand again in the next presidential elections.

Following the announcement, his Fatah party were quick to use last week's ceremony in Ramallah marking the fifth anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat as an opportunity to rally its supporters to swing behind his beleaguered successor.

Fatah officials fear a leadership vacuum if President Abbas was to step down - something its supporters are very aware of.

"It's dangerous situation because without him, everything collapses," a Fatah member told FRANCE 24 at the ceremony. "He's in control, more than anyone else."

Mahmoud Abbas was noticeably ambigious in his speech as to what his final plans resulting in much speculation about his future with party official now discussing a variety of scenarios.

"There are two things we can do; either to dissolve the Palestinian Authority and go back to square one or announce the creation of an independent Palestinian state and tell the world," senior Fatah official Ziad Abu Ein told FRANCE 24.

Ramallah is full of rumours that, with or without an election, the Palestinian leader is preparing to resign regardless.

Mahmoud Abbas, one of the architects of the Oslo accords, is now fed up with the peace process, or lack of. That is bad news for the Israelis, says Dr Yossi Beilin, one of their former negotiators who knows the president well.

"Mahmoud Abbas is very, very unique leader. He hates power. He's very sincere, he really believes in peace," Dr Beilin says.

"This is why I believe that it's a pity not to use this opportunity - not that there no other good people and we will be able to find a compromise but I would say that it is a very, very long bet and we cannot afford it."

But will his resignation result in disastrous consequences and also the end of Palestinian Authority? Palestinian analyst Dr  Mahdi Abdul Hadi is not so sure, and argues that, with or without Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian people will still manage.

"They [the Palestinian people] can be creative in maintaining their steadfastness with different regime and maintaining the Palestinian Authority and the PLO as their representative and functioning.. if not 100 percent normal then at least maintain the process until something different will take its place."

Still, many in the international community are deeply worried about what it will mean when Mahmoud Abbas does disappear from the Palestinian political scene.

 

 

 

By Marc de Chalvron and Annette Young

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