Mahmoud Abbas, the aging Palestinian president, is said to be preparing a major speech outlining a new strategy for the Palestinian national struggle, though people close to him say that even they are not sure exactly what he might say. Or he might simply be trying to restore legitimacy to moribund institutions by replacing longtime cronies with fresh, younger faces, The New York Times reports:
All of this may be lost on Palestinians worried about rising unemployment and poverty, and the lagging reconstruction of Gaza after last summer’s devastating war between Israel and Hamas. Al Quds, the largest-circulation Palestinian newspaper, posted a video last week in which people stopped in the streets of Ramallah struggled to name a single member of the P.L.O. executive committee or to explain its role.
Two officials say Abbas has told confidants he won’t seek re-election to the top posts in the Palestine Liberation Organization or his Fatah movement in upcoming elections, Associated Press adds.
“I think for the most part the public is not buying into it,” said Khalil Shikaki, director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, whose quarterly polls have shown Mr. Abbas’s approval ratings between 35 percent and 44 percent over the past year.
Mr. Shikaki said Mr. Abbas has no answers to the public’s pressing questions: “Why is he failing to unify the West Bank and Gaza? Why is he failing to confront the Israelis and the Americans? Why is he failing to deal with corruption at home? Why is he picking fights with people inside Fatah and outside?”