Mahmoud Abbas not to seek reelection
The 74-year-old Fatah leader announces on live TV that he will not run, accuses Hamas of undermining internal Palestinian unity and US of “favouring Israel”. Defeat over settlements and his ambiguous position on Goldstone report weakened his standing among Palestinians.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Mahmoud Abbas will not seek re-elect to the presidency of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in elections scheduled for 24 January 2010. The outgoing president made the announcement in a televised speech last night at PNA headquarters in Ramallah.

“I have informed the brothers in [the PLO and Fatah] that I do not wish to present my candidacy in the forthcoming presidential election," he said. "I hope they understand this position of mine, taking note that there are other steps I will take," he added.

The announcement, which appears final, comes less 24 hours after Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said on Wednesday that Abbas would consider a second term only if the peace process was back on track.

In his televised speech, Yasir Arafat’s successor also chastised Hamas for undermining Palestinian national unity from within.

Abbas also explicitly criticised the United States for “favouring the Israeli position,” and not opposing Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories

He also said that his move had no strategic aim, but many sources within the Palestinian establishment are saying that Fatah officials are trying to get him to change idea.

The 74-year-old’s failure to get talks with Israel back on track in the last 11 months weighted heavily on his decision.

He had used his credibility as a leader to demand Israel stop all its settlement activities, including new construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, as a pre-condition to resume talks. By contrast, the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not give an inch. At present, about 2,500 building sites remain open, 400 to be inaugurated over the next few months,

When US secretary of state Hillary Clinton  called for an immediate resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, despite Israel’s continuing refusal to freeze the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the PNA saw itself beaten.

The Goldstone report about war crimes by Israel and Hamas during last year’s Gaza War complicated matters.

When Abbas said that a vote in the UN Commission for Human Rights could be postponed, he was forced to backtrack by public protests in Palestine and violent charges by Hamas.

He succeeded in getting the Commission to vote on the report but did not regain much of the support he lost because so many Palestinians were incensed by his alignment on US and Israeli positions.