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Abbas oversteps in moves against 'political sabotage'

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appears to have gone too far, upsetting his European Union supporters, in ordering the closure of the Palestinian Peace Coalition, led by Yasser Abed Rabbo, whom Abbas earlier removed as secretary-general of the PLO's Executive Committee.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (C), joins a reading of the Koran prior to a meeting of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee in the West Bank city of Ramallah, August 22, 2015. REUTERS/Majdi Mohammed/Pool - RTX1P89U
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It took 72 hours for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to grasp that this time he had gone too far. On Aug. 19 in Ramallah, Palestinian security personnel burst into the offices of the Palestinian Peace Coalition, an organization headed by Yasser Abed Rabbo, an Abbas political rival, with a presidential order to shut it down. The coalition works among the Palestinian public to advance the Geneva Initiative and the idea of a two-state solution. The closure order was another move in the all-out war Abbas has declared on Abed Rabbo. On June 30, Abbas had fired Abed Rabbo from his position as secretary-general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

Unlike Abed Rabbo's firing and the forced resignation of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in April 2013, shutting down the offices of the Palestinian Peace Coalition elicited angry responses from numerous quarters. The coalition, like the Geneva Initiative office in Israel, is supported by the European Union, which views its activities as one of the last remaining rays of hope for peace in the region. The surprise of Abbas' move was so great because Abbas presents himself as someone who strives tirelessly to advance the idea of peace with Israel on the basis of two states for two peoples, and the Geneva Initiative had received his blessing in the past.

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