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Editor’s note: Below is the latest profile of Frontpage’s new series, “Voices of Palestine,” which will illuminate the core beliefs, in their own words, of leading figures in the Palestinian death cult. Click the following to view the profiles ofAhmad Bahr, Mahmoud al-Zahar, Ibrahim Mudayris, Yasser Ghalban, Haj Amin al-Husseini and Wafa al-Bis.
Born in March 1935, Mahmoud Abbas, commonly known as Abu Mazen, is a leading politician in Fatah. He served as Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority (PA) from March to October 2003. In January 2005 he was elected President of the PA.
Abbas was born in Safed, in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine. After the founding of Israel and the subsequent occupation of the rest of the former Mandate by Jordan and Egypt, he left for Egypt to study law. Abbas subsequently pursued graduate studies in Moscow, where he earned a doctorate. His doctoral thesis later became a book (titled The Other Side: The Secret Relations between Nazism and the Leadership of the Zionist Movement) which denied both the scope and gravity of the Nazi Holocaust. According to Abbas, “only a few hundred thousand Jews” were killed in the Holocaust and those mostly through collusion between the Nazis and the Zionists.
In the mid-1950s Abbas became involved in underground Palestinian politics, and joined a number of exiled Palestinians in Qatar. While there, he recruited numerous people who would become key figures in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and was one of the founding members of Fatah in 1957.
Through the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, Abbas travelled with Yasser Arafat and the rest of the PA leadership-in-exile to Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia. Widely regarded as a pragmatist, Abbas is credited with initiating secretive contacts with leftist and pacifist Jewish organizations during the 1970s and 80s, and is considered by many to have been a major architect of the 1993 Oslo peace accords (evidenced in part by the fact that he traveled with Arafat to the White House to sign the accords).
Mohammed Daoud Oudeh, mastermind of the Munich Massacre of eleven Israeli Olympic athletes in 1972, alleges that his deadly operation (spearheaded by Abu Nidal and carried out under the name “Black September“) was funded by Abbas.
Nonetheless, Abbas has cultivated a public reputation as a political moderate. The main piece of evidence for his putative temperance—his supposed opposition to the Palestinian Intifada—is belied by many of his public statements. In March 2003, for example, Abbas told the London-based Arabic paper A-Sharq al-Aussat, “The Intifada must continue, and it is the right of the Palestinian people to resist and use all possible means in order to defend its presence and existence …”
Morton Klein, National President of the Zionist Organization of America, makes the following observations about Abbas:
One of the extraordinary blind spots of contemporary Middle East history is the obsession of calling Mahmoud Abbas, whose nom de guerre or war name is Abu Mazen, a peace-loving moderate. … Abbas was not only Yasser Arafat’s deputy for 40 years, he also co-founded with him the terrorist group Fatah, masterminded the Munich massacre and wrote a PhD thesis and book denying the Holocaust. He has completely failed as PA president to honor the Oslo Accords and other signed agreements, including the 2003 Roadmap peace plan by … extraditing and jailing terrorists and confiscating their weaponry, and ending the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps … When the PA opened its own Rafah border crossing in Gaza [in 2005], he named it after the terrorist killer Al-Moayed Bihokmillah Al-Aqha, who was killed in December 2004 carrying out a terrorist attack that killed five Israelis.
Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly spoken of the importance of “implementing the principles of Yasser Arafat” … He has praised the Lebanese Islamist terrorist group, Hizballah, … saying that it is a source of pride and sets an example for what he termed the “Arab resistance” … He condemned Israel’s killing of four Palestinian terrorists in a military operation as a “barbarous slaughter” … He sometimes criticizes Palestinian terrorism only on tactical grounds, because “it harms the Palestinian interests.”
Although it is an explicit Palestinian commitment under the Oslo agreements and the Roadmap peace plan, he calls dismantling terrorist groups a “red line” that must not be crossed. … [He] has said of Palestinian terrorists that “Israel calls them terrorists, we call them strugglers”; … that “Allah loves the martyr”; … and that wanted Palestinian terrorists are “heroes fighting for freedom” … When President Bush asked Abbas to announce that he supports Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, he refused. Lastly, it should also not be forgotten that Mahmoud Abbas heads the Fatah Party, a movement whose Charter to this day calls for terrorism against Israel and its destruction.
By early 2003, as both Israel and the United States had indicated their refusal to negotiate any further with Arafat, Abbas began to emerge as a candidate for a more visible leadership role. As a founding member of Fatah, he enjoyed a measure of credibility within the Palestinian cause. And his reputation as a pragmatist garnered him favor with the international community and with certain elements of the Palestinian legislature. Thus pressure was soon brought on Arafat to appoint Abbas to the post of Prime Minister. Arafat did so, with some reluctance, on March 19, 2003.
Abbas’s tenure as Prime Minister was characterized by numerous power struggles between him and Arafat. Abbas also came into conflict with Palestinian terrorist groups, notably Islamic Jihad and Hamas; his pragmatic policies were diametrically opposed to the hard-line approach of those organizations. Initially Abbas pledged, in the interest of avoiding a civil war, to use negotiation rather than force in dealing with the militants. This approach was partially successful, resulting in a pledge from the two groups to honor a unilateral Palestinian cease-fire. However, subsequent eruptions of violence forced Abbas to order a police-enforced crackdown. This led to further struggle with Arafat over control of the Palestinian security services.
The feud came to a head on September 6, 2003: Abbas submitted to Arafat his resignation from the post of Prime Minister, citing inability to carry out his duties in the face of continual opposition from Arafat and others in the Palestinian Authority, as well as a lack of support from Israel. He presided over a “caretaker” government until his successor Ahmed Qurei was sworn in on October 7, 2003.
Abbas resurfaced on the Palestinian political scene following Arafat’s death in November 2004, succeeding Arafat as PLO Chairman. Later that month, Abbas won the endorsement of Fatah to stand as its candidate in the January 2005 presidential election, for which he campaigned on a virulently anti-Israel platform. At a January 4 campaign stop, for instance, he denounced Israel as the “Zionist enemy,” and offered a prayer to “the souls of the martyrs,” a reference to seven Palestinian terrorists killed by the Israeli army earlier in the week.
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