Since 2005, Mahmoud Abbas has served as President of the Palestinian National Authority. He is well recognized for his pragmatic approach to the conflict between Palestine and Israel. While working in Qatar in the mid-1950s, he began his political career. Later, Yasser Arafat recruited him to join the Fatah party, which was at the forefront of the Palestinian military struggle and later became the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s major partner. While the gang was enthusiastic about military conflict, Abbas and his associates called for discussions with moderate Israelis. Later, as the organization grew, he was assigned diplomatic responsibilities. When the US declined to deal with Arafat in 2003, he became the organization’s more visible face and was designated Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority. Following Arafat’s death, he was named Chairman of the PLO and President of the Palestinian National Authority. During this time, he had to deal with not only Israelis, but also armed factions such as Hamas. He utilized his position to extract an implicit recognition as an independent state from the United Nations.
Childhood and Adolescence
Mahmoud Abbas was born in Safed, also known as Zefad, on March 26, 1935. The town is in Northern Israel’s Galilee area, but it was previously part of Mandatory Palestine.
He and his family escaped to Syria when the Palestine War broke out in 1948. Mahmoud received his education there. Later, he studied law at the University of Damascus and relocated to Egypt after graduation. He worked as an elementary school teacher for a while.
Later, in his late 50s, he moved to Qatar and worked as a Director of Personnel for the Emirate’s civil service. He met exiled Palestinian leaders and was inducted into politics when he was there.
He eventually moved to Moscow to study for his doctorate at Patrice Lumumba University. The topic was ‘The Nazi Connection to Zionist Movement Leaders.’ In 1982, he earned his Candidate of Science Degree (the Russian equivalent of a Ph.D.).
He then wrote a book titled “The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism” in 1984. It was written in the Arabic language. In it, he attempted to prove that the Holocaust’s death toll was a deception, and that the Jews who died in concentration camps were actually victims of a Nazi-Zionist conspiracy.
Early Years in Politics
Mahmoud Abbas began his political career while living in Qatar in the late 1950s. Yasser Arafat recruited him in 1961 and he became a member of the arakat al-Tarr al-Waan al-Filasn (Palestine National Liberation Movement), also known as Fatah or Fath.
It was an underground political movement co-founded by Yasser Arafat with the goal of liberating Palestine from Israeli domination through armed conflict. Fatah eventually took control of the Palestine Liberation Organization. In 1968, Abbas joined the Palestine National Council and was elected to the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee.
Abbas also contributed significantly to the organization’s cause. Abbas gave the fund, according to Abu Daoud, the mastermind of the 1972 Munich Massacre, despite not knowing how the money would be used.
Abbas took over as head of the PLO’s International Department in the late 1970s. He was charged with the responsibility of portraying PLO policy in a more moderate light in this capacity. He began lobbying for discussions with Israel soon after. He signed the first contract with Israeli peace groups in 1977.
In the 1990s, Abbas was tasked with developing a Palestinian negotiating strategy for the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991. Later, he worked on the peace strategy for the secret discussions with Israelis that would take place in Oslo.
However, in 1990-91, the PLO and Saudi Arabia had a tense relationship over Saudi Arabia’s support for Iraqis in the Persian Gulf War. Abbas traveled to Saudi Arabia in January 1993 to restore the PLO’s relationship with the kingdom.
On September 13, 1993, in Washington, DC, he signed the ‘Oslo I Accord,’ which further established his position in the PLO. In the presence of PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, US President Bill Clinton, and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Abbas signed the document for the PLO.
Abbas then represented the PLO in 1995 when he signed the Beilin-Abu Mazen draft agreement. Unfortunately, both sides later rejected it.
As a Supervisor
By 2003, Abbas had established himself as the Palestinian leadership’s more public face. Both the US and Israel had refused to deal with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat by that time. Abbas, as one of Fatah’s founding members, was a natural choice to succeed him. Besides, he was acceptable to both the East and the West.
Arafat named Abbas as Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority on March 19, 2003. When he took leadership, he quickly denounced terrorism and promised to put an end to Palestinian uprisings and form a unified Palestinian military force.
However, Arafat continued to meddle in every topic, and the power struggle between the two leaders raged on. Finally, on September 6, 2003, Abbas withdrew from office. He also had to cope with Palestinian militant factions who chose a more hard-line approach during his brief stay.
Despite the fact that he had stood aside from the presidency, his leadership was unchallenged. When Yasser Arafat died in November 2004, Abbas was the clear favorite of the people. He was elected Chairman of the PLO and won the Presidential election on January 9, 2005, with 60 percent of the vote.
As President of the Palestine National Authority, he called for a stop to violence and advocated for nonviolent resistance. He was unable to disarm the terrorist factions, who launched attacks on January 12 and 13 in blatant defiance of his authority, killing numerous Israelis.
As a result, Israel severed ties with Abbas, telling him that he must now demonstrate his genuine desire for peace by restraining such individuals. Despite this, on January 15, Abbas was sworn in as President of the Palestine National Authority. The event took place in Ramallah, West Bank.
After the legislative election on January 25, 2006, he was beset with even more problems. The majority of seats were won by candidates backed by the militant organisation Hamas. A Fatah-Hamas coalition government was formed for a short time. However, the bloodshed persisted.
On January 9, 2009, Abbas’ time as President came to an end. However, he continued to extend the tenure for another year, claiming that the Basic Law provided him the authority to do so. Despite initially disputing such assertions, Hamas was recognised as the interim government’s leader in May 2011.
He took part in another round of peace talks with Israel in 2010, but it ended in failure. Following that, he focused on achieving international recognition for Palestine. In September 2011, he made a request to the United Nations for Palestine’s admittance as an independent state, a move opposed by the United States and Israel.
After receiving no response to his proposal, Abbas presented a draft resolution to the UN General Assembly, requesting that the Palestine Mission’s status be changed from Permanent Observer to Nonmember Observer State.
On November 29, 2012, a resolution granting such a request was passed by a vote of 138 to 9. A total of 41 countries voted no. As a result, Palestine gained tacit recognition as an independent state and is now eligible to join many international organizations.
Personal Experiences of Mahmoud Abbas
Amina Abbas is Mahmoud Abbas’s wife, and the couple has three children: Mazen Abbas, Yasser Abbas, and Tareq Abbas. Mazen Abbas, who died at the age of 42, is survived by Yasser Abbas, a Canadian businessman, and Tareq Abbas, a business executive. Abbas has written two books thus far. His first book, ‘The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism,’ is based on his doctoral thesis, ‘The Connection Between the Nazis and the Leaders of the Zionist Movement,’ which was written in Arabic. ‘Through Secret Channels: The Road to Oslo,’ his second book, is a memoir of the Oslo Accord.
Mahmoud Abbas Net Worth
Mahmoud Abbas is one of the wealthiest and most popular politicians in the world. Mahmoud Abbas’ net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.