No takers for Abbas` Palestinian Presidency
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Last Updated: Friday, November 06, 2009, 20:36
Ramallah, West Bank: There were no bids by younger Palestinian leaders on Friday to step into the shoes of President Mahmoud Abbas, who says he does not want to run for re-election in January.

Making clear the Fatah movement is, so far, unwilling to take the 74-year-old president at his word, none of the men seen as potential successors threw his hat into the ring after Abbas's announcement on Thursday.

Israel and the United States were also careful not to take his decision as irrevocable. They rely on Abbas as their partner in the diplomatic drive for a Middle East peace treaty.

With the Palestinians so deeply divided between Fatah and the Hamas movement which controls the Gaza Strip, many analysts doubt there will be an election in January -- in which case Abbas may simply have to carry on representing his people in the peace process that Washington is trying to revive.

In an address to the nation, Abbas said on Thursday he had told Palestine Liberation Organization leaders "I have no desire to run in the forthcoming election" scheduled for January 24.

He expressed disappointment with the U.S. administration of President Barack Obama for "favoring" Israel in arguments over re-launching peace talks and said his decision to stand down was not a negotiating tactic to win concessions.

His departure now would throw a wrench into the shuddering machinery of a "peace process" that has been stuck for a year and shows now sign of advancing.

The PLO executive committee heard Abbas out but rejected his notice to leave, knowing it as yet has no credible successor in the wings. Mohammad Shtayyeh, an aide to Abbas and a top official of the Fatah movement, said Abbas felt let down by Washington and betrayed by some Arab allies. "Between now and the election date, we hope Abbas will reconsider," he said.

Bureau Report

First Published: Friday, November 06, 2009, 20:36

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