Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during the 74th Session of the General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York on September 26, 2019. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP) (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

The Media Line Exclusive: The State of Abbas 15 Years Later

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has entered the 16th year of what was meant to be a four-year term in office. The Palestinian leadership, which is now split between the PA-controlled West Bank and Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, has not held presidential or legislative elections since 2005 and 2006, respectively. In the intervening timeframe, Abbas’s popularity has progressively dwindled, with some accusing him of inching toward authoritarianism. The Media Line’s Mohammad Al-Kassim spoke to numerous high-ranking Palestinian officials and well-known public figures to gauge the sentiment in Ramallah a decade-and-a-half after Abbas became the PA’s leader.

Below is an excerpt from the article, which can be read in its entirety here:

During the early days of Abbas’s presidency, almost two-thirds of Palestinians believed in him. They overwhelmingly and enthusiastically supported him, something that hitherto had been reserved for the man he succeeded.

Jihad Harb, a political analyst who writes for several Palestinian media outlets, told The Media Line that at the time, people were excited and talking of a new era.

“For the first year after the election of President Abbas, it was clear that the [PA’s] political system was heading toward a democratic system that accepted criticism, and that there were practices in place signaling a modern, democratic system,” Harb said.

The optimism did not last long, and Khalil Shikaki, director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, told The Media Line that Abbas’s approval rating has nose-dived over the past few years.

“The most dramatic change during the last 15 years is the decline in Abbas’s popularity and the loss of credibility and trust that he suffered during those years. His popularity in the early years after he was elected was relatively high – in fact, very high.”

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