Now in his tenth year of a four-year term, critics of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas say he lacks electoral legitimacy within his Fatah party, while Hamas, the rival Islamist party that controls Gaza, where an estimated 1.7 million Palestinian Arabs live, undermines his authority to negotiate a peace deal with Israel, according to Gatestone Institute scholar Khaled Abu Toameh on Friday.
“Abbas’s critics maintain that his decision unilaterally to extend his term in office violates Palestinian Basic Law,” Abu Toameh wrote. “They have also warned that Abbas’s move paves the way for ‘constitutional and legislative anarchy’ in the Palestinian territories. By remaining in power beyond his term, Abbas has given Hamas and other Palestinians a good excuse to argue that he is in no way authorized to sign a peace agreement with Israel.”
He quoted Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri as saying, “Mahmoud Abbas’s term in office expired a long time ago. He has lost his legitimacy. He does not have a mandate to negotiate or sign an agreement.”
Gaza is led by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh who differentiates his party from Fatah by more openly declaring its intent to wage war against Israel. He recently preached to a gathering of young Gazans about the importance of educating “the future generation to love death for the sake of Allah as much as our enemies love life.”
Abu Toameh’s analysis calls for more elections to gauge which party truly represents people from the two regions, although that risks the outcome of Islamic Jihad, and even more radical parties than Hamas, gaining power, especially in Gaza.
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