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Congratulations to Mahmoud Abbas

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avatar by Maurice Hirsch

Opinion

PA President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a meeting in Ramallah, in the West Bank August 18, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman/Pool

On January 8, 2023, Mahmoud Abbas celebrated completing 18 years in his position as Chairman of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

According to section 3(2) of the 2007 PA Law Pertaining the General Elections, “The presidential office term shall be four years. He/she shall not be elected for more than two terms.”

Abbas was elected in the last PA elections for the position of Chairman held on Jan. 9, 2005. In preparation for those elections, the PA Central Elections Committee reported that there were 1,760,481 registered voters. Hamas boycotted the elections, and only 802,077 actually cast their vote. Of those who voted, only 501,448 voted for Abbas. In other words, Abbas was elected by only 28% of the Palestinians eligible to vote.

Ignoring the law, and unconcerned about the fact that he was elected by a small minority vote, Abbas has remained in his position for 18 years.

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While the PA constantly references its democratic values and nature, the reality is that Abbas is just another dictator who refuses to uphold the law and relinquish the power he illegitimately usurped in 2009 at the end of his 4-year term, and consequent to his refusal to hold new elections.

True to its anti-democratic dictatorial values, the PA under Abbas has similarly refrained from holding general elections to the PA Parliament since 2006. In those elections, the majority of the votes cast were for Hamas, an internationally designated terror organization.

Bowing to international pressure, Abbas agreed, in January 2021, to call general elections for the PA Parliament in May, followed by elections for the position of PA Chairman in July 2021. When Abbas realized that he and his Fatah party were destined to lose the elections and be replaced by Hamas, he again invoked the anti-democratic tradition of the PA and demonstrated his dictatorial nature by canceling the elections.

As Palestinian Media Watch recently noted, the absence of elections is just one of the moves adopted by Abbas to consolidate his and Fatah’s dictatorial dominance over the PA.

Maurice Hirsch, Adv. is the Head of Legal Strategies for Palestinian Media Watch, where a version of this article first appeared.

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