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Abbas Declared New President
January 10, 2005

Mahmoud Abbas, the new Palestinian president.
Mahmoud Abbas
New Palestinian President
(Click photo to enlarge.)

The official results of the election are out, and Mahmoud Abbas has been declared the President of the Palestinian Authority. This is the candidate preferred by the U.S., Israel, and the Arab leaders – none of these being friends of the Palestinian people. And he is the candidate who will go along with their wishes and compromise Palestinian rights.

It is important to note that Abbas has not been elected as the “leader of the Palestinian people,” but only the leader of the Palestinian Authority. The distinction is important because the Authority is limited to governing the West Bank and Gaza (mostly municipality type tasks), and not to representing the Palestinian diaspora, which comprises of most of the Palestinian people. He has no mandate or right to make any concessions on behalf of the diaspora, foremost amongst these the right of return. Although Abbas has abandoned the right of return in previous talks with Israeli officials, his campaign for this election included assertions that he would never give up the right of return. But ofcourse he will, as this is what his American and Israeli masters require, and it will be interesting to eventually watch him explain to his people that he meant he would defend their right to return only to whatever area is finally allotted to the Palestinian so-called state (if any), but not to their original homes in what is now Israel.

Mustafa Barghouthi came in second.
Mustafa Barghouthi
The Palestinian Initiative
(Click photo to enlarge.)

Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, who came in second, has noted many irregularities in the election process, rendering Abbas’ victory questionable. These include Israel’s obstruction of Palestinian movement, particularly in Jerusalem where residents were not allowed to vote unless they travelled to the West Bank to do that, and in the Rafah border crossing where thousands of Palestinians have been held for more than a month. Checkpoints were not removed as Israel had promised. The irregularities also include problems with the elections registry and with the supposedly indelible ink which was used to prevent double-voting, but was later found to be easily removable, and problems with voting procedures being changed without informing the candidates (except for Abbas, who also enjoyed a freedom of movement that his rivals did not). Also, some election procedures were changed halfway through the day, “under heavy pressure” from Fateh (Abbas’ party). These included extending polling by two hours, apparently because the Abbas campaign was concerned about low voter turnout, which would reduce his mandate. Some people were informed about this extension, and some were not. Palestinian security forces were trucked in the hundreds to vote in the last two hours.

While the election has been touted as a giant step forward for democracy in Palestine, the truth of the matter is that nothing has changed. A new man (well, not so new since he co-authored the Oslo Accord) has been installed, and if he fails to please Israel and the US, he will also be labelled an obstacle to peace and Israeli will again complain that is has “no partner for peace.” The following press release by Media Review Network, and article by Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah shed more light on the the issue.

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Additional Resources

Website – Dr. Mustapha Barghouthi’s Campaign

Mahmoud Abbas’ biography on PA Website


Palestinian Liberation Organization

The Palestinian Initiative

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

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