abbas good pic 248.88 ap.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Fatah officials on Wednesday night that he would not run for office in the 2010 presidential elections, later conveying the same message to the PLO Central Committee.
Earlier Thursday, a senior Fatah official was quoted by Israel Radio as saying that if Abbas withdraws from the upcoming presidential elections, the continued existence of the Palestinian Authority would become unnecessary.
Fatah does not intend to put forward a candidate to replace Abbas, whose departure would signify the collapse of the peace process at the hands of Israel, the official was quoted as saying.
PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh stated in a BBC interview on Wednesday that Abbas was seriously considering withdrawing his candidacy from the upcoming presidential elections due to lack of progress on the diplomatic front, citing the frozen peace process with Israel and failed Palestinian reconciliation efforts.
Officials close to Abbas said Wednesday that there was no diplomatic horizon at this point. They warned that if the two-state solution were not pushed forward, the Palestinians would work for a solution based on a bi-national state.
Another Fatah source said that Abbas was "broken," but clarified that Fatah did not yet have a feasible candidate with which to replace him.
Throughout the day, many Palestinian officials reportedly visited Abbas at the Muqata, advising him on the matter and urging him to reconsider his decision. Slogans and jingles such as "We are renewing our oath to you, Abbas" and "Allah is with you" were aired on Palestinian national television.
The Fatah Central Committee announced on Thursday that it opposed Abbas's threat of resignation. The PLO Central Committee later released a statement according to which it had "unanimously rejected" the decision.
PLO Central Committee chairman and Abbas adviser Yasser Abed Rabbo said following the meeting that Abbas did not represent the Fatah movement alone, but also all other Palestinian movements united under umbrella organization PLO.
Rabbo stated that the committee would make every effort to convince the Palestinian Authority's current president to run for office once again in January 2010, adding that although elections would be held in any case, Abbas's candidacy was vital at this point in Palestinian history.
The Palestinian Authority leadership headed by Abbas must be strong in the face of pressure and push the peace process forward, concluded Rabbo.
On Thursday, both Rabbo and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad reiterated that the international community must work toward a construction freeze in both the settlements and Jerusalem on the way to a two-state solution.
Abbas has threatened in the past not to run, and it was not immediately clear whether this was a final decision. The presidents of Egypt and Israel, the king of Jordan and Israel's defense minister all phoned the Palestinian leader on Thursday, urging him to change his mind, aides said.
The two aides said Abbas would announce his decision in a speech later Thursday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because Abbas has not officially declared his intentions.
AP contributed to this report.