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ALM Special

Palestinians want Abbas to resign, but don't say goodbye yet

Despite his unpopularity at home, President Mahmoud Abbas remains Palestine's primary representative to Western officials and the leadership transition must be slow and cautious.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 15: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends an observation of the 75th anniversary of the Nakba in the General Assembly Hall at the United Nations on May 15, 2023 in New York City. A day of observation of the 75th anniversary of the Nakba was held at the UN with performances by Palestinian singer Sanaa Moussa, Grammy Award-nominee cellist and composer Naseem Alatrash who was accompanied by the New York Arabic Orchestra and directed by Eugene Friesen. Nakba was the displacement o

This is the second of a three-part special series on Palestinian politics and society. You can read part one and three here and here. 

There are very few people in Palestine today who want 86-year-old President Mahmoud Abbas to stay in power. The man’s age, political stubbornness, refusal to reconcile with Hamas and his total absence during the catastrophic war on the Gaza Strip make him persona non grata in most political discussions. A recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research showed that 79% of Palestinians in the occupied territories want him to resign.

Abbas and his allies are accused of corruption, nepotism and lack of sensitivity to the Palestinian plight. One senior adviser to Abbas, Supreme Sharia Judge Mahmoud Habash is so hated that people refuse to hear him preach. When worshippers realized that he was going to give the Friday sermon in a Ramallah mosque on Dec. 22, they walked out.

But despite his unpopularity, Abbas remains the Palestinian representative recognized by Western and Arab officials. He is the only recognized Palestinian leader and is still welcomed in most Arab and other friendly capitals and even by many Israeli officials, although not the right-wing political leadership headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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