PLO extends Abbas's term

2009-12-17 07:36

Ramallah - The Palestine Liberation Organisation indefinitely extended Mahmoud Abbas's term as Palestinian president on Wednesday and endorsed his refusal to negotiate with Israel unless it freezes all settlement construction.

The decision, which was expected, nonetheless gave an important vote of confidence to the embattled president. Abbas' inability to reconcile with the rival Hamas movement or wrest concessions from Israel has hurt his popularity among many Palestinians.

The Western-backed Abbas has repeatedly threatened to step down in frustration over the impasse with Israel, while simultaneously hinting that he could be persuaded to remain in office. Wednesday's vote by the PLO's Central Council gives Abbas more time to work out his problems.

He said, though, in an interview published on Wednesday, that Israel and the Palestinians could reach a comprehensive peace deal within six months if Israel completely froze settlement construction.

The vote endorsed Abbas's earlier decision to call off presidential and parliamentary elections, which had been set for January. Abbas said it was impossible to hold the election due to Hamas' refusal to allow voting in its Gaza Strip stronghold.

No date

The extension, which also applies to parliament members, ensures that Abbas' government continue to function until elections can be held in "the entire homeland", said Central Council member Saleh Rafat. It did not set a date for a new vote.

The Palestinians have been divided between two governments since Hamas militants wrested control of Gaza from Abbas' forces in June 2007. Abbas now governs only the West Bank.

Multiple attempts to reconcile the two groups have failed, and Hamas has signalled that it will not agree to new elections until an agreement with Fatah is reached.

In Gaza, Hamas criticised Wednesday's PLO vote as "a confiscation of democracy".

"The Central Council is not elected and illegal, and all of its decisions are illegal and not binding on our people," said spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum.

The Central Council also endorsed Abbas' refusal to return to negotiations with Israel until it stops construction of Jewish settlements on lands the Palestinians want for a future state, as laid out in the US-backed "road map" peace plan.

Peace talks broke down a year ago and have not resumed since Benjamin Netanyahu became prime minister of Israel in March.


Abbas told the Israeli daily Haaretz that he proposed the six-month freeze to Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak in a pair of recent telephone conversations.

"I suggested to him (Barak) three weeks ago that Israel freeze all construction in the settlements for six months, including east Jerusalem," Abbas told the Israeli daily Haaretz. "During this time we can get back to the table and even complete talks on a final status agreement. I have yet to receive an answer."

Barak's office refused to respond to Abbas' comments. But a spokesman for Netanyahu said the Palestinians should "stop making excuses".

Netanyahu has announced a 10-month moratorium on all new construction projects in the West Bank. But Palestinians have rejected the move as insufficient, since some building continues and the limitations do not apply to east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim as their future capital.

Israel captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war, and today, nearly 500 000 Israelis live in settlements in the two areas.

Netanyahu spokesperson Mark Regev said it was time for Abbas to return to talks, rather than dictate preconditions.

"We have just seen the Palestinian leadership place more and more obstacles in restarting the talks," he said. "I call upon the Palestinian side to stop making excuses and return to talks."


The impasse over resuming peace talks comes at a time when Abbas' political standing at home is steadily eroding. His term as president was due to end in January, five years after he was elected, and his standoff with Hamas is intensifying.

Abbas has said he would not run for elections again due to frustration with the peace process, a position repeated in the Haaretz interview.

"If I can't reach my goals, I see no reason to hold on to my chair," he said.


Read more on:    mahmoud abbas  |  israel  |  middle east peace

Read News24’s Comments Policy


Inside News24


Zille: Only DA can challenge ANC in F State

The DA is the only party that can challenge the ANC in the Free State, opposition party leader Helen Zille says.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Monday Muizenberg - 15:04 PM
    Road name: Main Road Southbound
    HEAVY DELAYS between Muizenberg and Fish Hoek
  • Monday Sir Lowry's Pass - 13:45 PM
    Road name: N2 Westbound
    HEAVY TRAFFIC over Sir Lowrys Pass - expect delays
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Apple iPad 2 White 16GB 9.7" Tablet With WiFi & 3G

Two cameras for FaceTime and HD video recording. The dual-core...

From R5727.00

I'm shopping for:


There may be a break through, either through quiet contemplative time to connect to your deep side or forced on you more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.