Palestinians launch campaign to oust ‘illegitimate’ Abbas

Abbas is facing criticism for allegedly failing to support the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during the recent 11-day fighting between Israel and Hamas.

Various Palestinian factions, academics and political activists are demanding that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas resign or be removed from power.

The demand came as the 85-year-old Abbas continues to face sharp criticism from many Palestinians for calling off the parliamentary and presidential elections that were supposed to take place on May 22 and July 31.

Abbas, in addition, is facing criticism for allegedly failing to support the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during the recent 11 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas.

After Abbas announced in late April the postponement of the elections, representatives of several Palestinian factions met in the Gaza Strip to discuss ways of removing Abbas from power.

The factions decided to launch a popular campaign to demand the resignation of Abbas on the pretext that he was no longer a legitimate leader of the Palestinians.

Abbas was elected PA president in January 2005, and his term in office expired in 2009. He has since used his dispute with Hamas as an excuse to avoid holding parliamentary and presidential elections.

The last parliamentary election was held in 2006, when Hamas defeated Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction and won a majority of the seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).

The 132-seat PLC has been paralyzed since 2007, when Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip.

When Abbas announced the postponement of the elections, he renewed his call for the formation of a Palestinian national unity government that would consist of various Palestinian factions, including Hamas. He has also asked Egypt and Qatar to exert pressure on Hamas and other Palestinian factions to accept his initiative for the establishment of a unity government.

But the faction leaders who met in the Gaza Strip a few weeks ago rejected Abbas’s call and said that they would urge Palestinians to work toward forcing Abbas to step down.

The leaders, however, suspended their campaign when the fighting between Israel and Hamas began in early May. Last week, days after the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement was announced, the factions announced that they have resumed their campaign to drive Abbas out of office.

In a related development, a group of Palestinian academics and public figures last weekend launched a campaign to demand the resignation or dismissal of Abbas from all the positions he holds in the Palestinian leadership: the presidency and chairmanship of the PA, PLO and Fatah.

“The recent intifada of Jerusalem has revealed the resounding incompetence of the president, his policies and his authority, and the Palestinian people have had enough,” the group said in a statement.

They accused Abbas of failing to show “moral solidarity with the suffering of the Palestinian people” during and after the Israel-Hamas fighting.

They further denounced attempts by the US administration to “restore Abbas’s legitimacy” by holding meetings with him and working toward reviving the peace process between the Palestinians and Israel.

The group accused Abbas of turning the PA into a “dictatorial institution ruled by one individual,” and said: “We declare that this president no longer has any political or national legitimacy; he must resign immediately, or be removed from the three leadership positions he controls. We call on our Palestinian people to join this call, and to start a new page based on the unity of the struggle, the unity of the people, and the unity of the land.”

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