Several hundred supporters of Mahmoud Abbas, the beleaguered president of the Palestinian Authority, rallied in the streets of Ramallah on Saturday in an apparent effort to reverse the growing feeling that Fatah and the president have fallen out of step and are in the midst of a political free-fall. The Media Line’s bureau chief Mohammad Al-Kassim spoke to Ahmad Rafiq Awad, president of the Center for Jerusalem Studies at Al-Quds University, who said the ruling Fatah party wanted to assert itself as the main Palestinian faction and that the Palestinian street does not belong to any particular group. Rival faction Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, boosted its standing among the Palestinian population as a result of 11 days of combat that saw nearly 5,000 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel and a fierce Israeli retaliation that caused half a billion dollars of damage to the enclave. Despite the destruction, Hamas’s mantra claiming it secures positive results from its “armed resistance” while Fatah has nothing to show for its endless negotiations is resonating. Abbas’s decision to again postpone elections as he continues to hold the office of president into the 17th year of a four-year term has also impacted public opinion against the octogenarian leader. Finally, the perceived onslaught against the media by Abbas, fueled by the death of a journalist in custody, is damaging the president’s standing.
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