|English: Mahmoud Abbas|
Mahmoud Abbas (Arabic: مَحْمُود عَبَّاس, Maḥmūd ʿAbbās; born 26 March 1935), also known by the kunya Abu Mazen (Arabic: أَبُو مَازِن, ‘Abū Māzin), an Arab of the Sunni-Muslim faith, has been the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) since 11 November 2004 and became President of the Palestinian National Authority on 15 January 2005 on the Fatah (فتح Fataḥ) ticket.
Mahmoud Abbas was elected to serve until 9 January 2009, due to Palestinian Internal conflict he unilaterally extended his term for another year and continues in office even after that second deadline expired. As a result of this, Fatah’s main rival, Hamas announced that it would not recognise the extension or view Abbas as rightful president. Abbas was chosen as the President of the State of Palestine by the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Central Council on 23 November 2008, a job he had held unofficially since 8 May 2005. Abbas served as the first Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority from March to October 2003 when he resigned citing lack of support from Israel and the United States as well as “internal incitement” against his government. Before being named prime minister, Abbas led the PLO’s Negotiations Affairs Department.
Mahmoud Abbas was born in Safed in Galilee. His family fled to Syria during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Abbas graduated from the University of Damascus before going to Egypt where he studied law.
Abbas later entered graduate studies at the Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, where he earned a Candidate of Sciences degree (the Soviet equivalent of a PhD). The theme of his doctoral dissertation was “The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism“.
He is married to Amina Abbas and they have had three sons. The eldest, Mazen Abbas, ran a building company in Doha and died in Qatar of a heart attack in 2002 at the age of 42. The kunya of Abu Mazen means “father of Mazen”. Their second son is Yasser Abbas, a Canadian businessman who was named after former PA leader Yasser Arafat. The youngest son is Tareq, a business executive.
In the mid-1950s, Abbas became heavily involved in underground Palestinian politics, joining a number of exiled Palestinians in Qatar, where he was Director of Personnel in the emirate’s Civil Service. While there, in 1961, he was recruited to become a member of Fatah, founded by Yasser Arafat and 5 other Palestinians in Kuwait in the late 1950s. At the time, Arafat was establishing the groundwork of Fatah by enlisting wealthy Palestinians in Qatar, Kuwait, and other Gulf States.
Abu Daoud, who planned the 1972 Munich massacre, the hostage-taking of members of the Israeli team at the Munich Olympic Games which ended with the murder of eleven Israeli athletes and coaches and a West German policeman, wrote that funds for the operation were provided by Abbas, though without knowing what the money would be used for.
He was among the first members of Fatah to call for talks with moderate Israelis, doing so in 1977. In a 2012 interview he recalled: “[…] because we took up arms, we were in a position to put them down with credibility”.
In 1985, he temporarily went into hiding in Yugoslavia upon avoiding international justice mechanisms in Rome, Italy.
At the same time he has performed diplomatic duties, presenting a moderating face for PLO policies. Abbas was the first PLO official to visit Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War in January 1993 to mend fences with the Gulf countries for the PLO’s support of Iraq during the Persian Gulf War. At the 1993 peace accord with Israel, Abbas was the signatory for the PLO on 13 September 1993. He published a memoir, Through Secret Channels: The Road to Oslo (1995).
In 1995, he and Israeli negotiator Yossi Beilin wrote the Beilin-Abu Mazen agreement, which was meant to be the framework for a future Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
Relations with foreign leaders
In May 2009, he welcomed Pope Benedict XVI to the West Bank, who supported Abbas’ goal of a Palestinian State.
Also in May 2009, Abbas made a visit to Canada, where he met with foreign affairs minister Lawrence Cannon and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
In February 2010, Abbas visited Japan for the third time as Palestinian President. In this visit he met Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. He also visited Hiroshima, the first such visit by a Palestinian leader, and spoke about the suffering of Hiroshima, which he compared to the suffering of the Palestinians.
In July 2012, Abbas accused former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of fabricating a conversation between them and denied that such a conversation took place. The specific quote he denied was, “I can’t tell four million Palestinians that only five thousand of them can go home,” regarding the issue of Palestinian refugees. Abbas further said, “I’m not calling her a liar… I am saying that we never had that conversation.” In response, Rice denied that she fabricated it, as her chief of staff Georgia Godfrey wrote, “Dr. Rice stands by her account of the conversation and what she wrote in her book.”
The Connection between the Nazis and the Leaders of the Zionist Movement 1933 – 1945 is the title of Mahmoud Abbas’ CandSc thesis, completed in 1982 at the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, and defended at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. In 1984 it was published as a book in Arabic titled “The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism” (Arabic: al-Wajh al-Akhar: al-‘Alaqat as-Sirriya bayna an-Naziya wa’s-Sihyuniya).
The dissertation and book discussed topics such as the Haavara Agreement, by which the Third Reich agreed with the Jewish Agency to facilitate Jewish emigration to Palestine, in conjunction with the UK and was never a secret at all. Some content of his thesis has been considered as Holocaust denial by critics, especially the parts disputing the accepted number of deaths in the Holocaust as well as the accusations that Zionist agitation was the cause of the Holocaust a charge that he denies.