- President of the Palestinian Authority
- Longtime ally of the late Yasser Arafat
- Rejects Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state
Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, was born on March 26, 1935 in Safed, a town located in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine. In 1948 he moved to Syria as a refugee from the Israeli War of Independence.
In the mid-1950s Abbas became active in Palestinian politics, joining secret underground groups in Qatar. While there, he helped recruit numerous individuals who would later become key figures in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
In the mid-1960s Abbas became a leading figure of the newly formed PLO. In an interview many years later, Abbas proudly recalled that he himself had “fire[d] the first bullet of the resistance” back in 1965. He boasted, moreover, that the PLO had taught many jihadis around the world “how to resist,” and how to gauge “when resistance is most effective and when it is not.” “I had the honor to lead,” said Abbas. “… We taught everyone, including the Hizbullah, the ways of resistance. They were all educated in our training camps.”In 1966, after Abbas and Arafat had murdered a number of intelligence officers in Syria, they fled to Jordan.
In 1968 Abbas joined the Palestine National Council and the PLO Executive Committee. While Arafat became chairman of the PLO in 1969, Abbas took a less public role as a security adviser and fundraiser.
In 1970, after their effort to topple Jordan’s Hashemite regime sparked a brutal civil war, Abbas and Arafat were expelled to Lebanon.
Mohammed Daoud Oudeh, mastermind of the Munich Massacre of eleven Israeli Olympic athletes in 1972, alleges that his deadly operation—spearheaded by Abu Nidal and carried out under the name “Black September”—was funded by Abbas. Daoud made that charge in his 1999 French-language memoir, Palestine: From Jerusalem to Munich, and again in an August 2002 interview with Don Yaeger of Sports Illustrated magazine.
“By 1975,” writes Yoram Ettinger, former Minister for Congressional Affairs at Israel’s Embassy in Washington, DC, “they [Abbas and Arafat] had plundered large parts of southern Lebanon, attempting to overthrow the [Christian] central regime in Beirut, which triggered the  Syrian invasion of Lebanon, a series of civil wars and the destruction of Lebanon.” These events resulted in close to 200,000 deaths and forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee as refugees.
Widely regarded as a pragmatist, Abbas is credited with having initiated secretive contacts with leftist and pacifist Jewish organizations during the 1970s and ’80s. In January 1977 he led negotiations with Matiyahu Peled of the of the short-lived Left Camp of Israel party—negotiations that resulted in the announcement of a set of “principles of peace” designed to facilitate a two-state-solution. This represented a major break with Arafat and traditional PLO policy, which generally sought to obliterate the Jewish state of Israel.
In 1980 Abbas became the head of the PLO’s Department for National and International Relations, a post he would hold for many years.
In 1982 at the Moscow-based Institute for Oriental Studies, Abbas wrote a doctoral thesis titled “The Connection Between Nazism and Zionism, 1933-1945.” The sub-heading of his thesis was “Zionist leadership and the Nazis.” The introduction explored, among other topics, the question of how many Jews had perished in the Holocaust. Wrote Abbas:“World War Two caused the death of 40 million people from different parts of the world…. Rumors at the end of the war said that 6 million of the world’s Jews were among the victims in the war of extermination that was waged against the Jewish people and later on against other peoples. The fact is that no one can confirm this number or deny it. The number could be 6 million, but it could be much smaller, perhaps even smaller than one million. The controversy over the number must not divert us from the severity of the crime committed against the Jewish people. The murder of a human being is a crime that the cultured world must not accept.” At one point in the text, Abbas wrote: “Many researchers who discussed the number reached the unconventional conclusion that it is no more than several hundred thousand.” He quoted one Holocaust denier who placed the figure at 896,000.
In 1983 Abbas published his doctoral thesis as a book titled The Other Side: The Secret Relations between Nazism and the Leadership of the Zionist Movement. In this book, the author revisited the theme of allegedly inflated Holocaust statistics, writing: “It seems that the Zionist movement’s stake in inflating the number of murdered in the war aimed at [ensuring] great gains. This led it to confirm the number [6 million], to establish it in world opinion, and by doing so to arouse more pangs of conscience and sympathy for Zionism in general. Many scholars have debated the question of the 6 million figure, and reached perplexing conclusions, according to which the Jewish victims total hundreds of thousands. The well-known Canadian author Roger Delarom said on this matter: ‘To date, no proof whatsoever exists that the number of Jewish victims in the Nazi concentration camps reached four million or six million. Zionism first spoke of 12 million exterminated in these camps, but then the number decreased greatly, to half, that is, only six million. Then the number decreased further, and became four million, as the Germans could not have killed or exterminated more Jews than there were in the world at that time. In effect, the true number is much smaller than these fictitious millions.’ The [American] historian and author Raul Hilberg thinks that this number is no greater than 896,000.”
In 1984 Abbas added an introduction to this book. Therein, he explored a topic that his dissertation had not addressed: the theory that Nazis had not used gas chambers as a tool of genocide, but rather, for incinerating the already dead bodies ad thereby averting the spread of disease—a claim based on research by Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson. Abbas also took pains to emphasize that “the concentration camps were not only for Jews, but held people from all over Europe, among them fighters, intellectuals, scholars, prisoners of war, and opponents of fascism…”
According to a report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Abbas’s book “sought to de-legitimize the Zionist movement, citing the 1935 agreement, between the Nazi authorities and representatives of the Zionist movement, which facilitated the escape of part of German Jewry to Palestine in exchange for their property.” Adds the MEMRI report: “According to Abu Mazen [Abbas], this agreement proves that the entire Zionist movement collaborated with the Nazis in the annihilation of the Jewish people because it saw Palestine as the only appropriate destination for Jewish emigration.”
The documents of Vasili Mitrokhin, a Soviet intelligence archivist who defected to London in 1992 after the fall of the Soviet Union, show that Abbas was a Syrian-based KGB agent in 1983. Code named “Krotov” (meaning “Mole”), Abbas worked at that time under the Russian diplomat Mikhail Bodganov, who was stationed at the Soviet Embassy in Damascus.
In May 1988 Abbas was elected by the PLO Executive Committee to replace Abu Jihad (who had been assassinated the previous month) as chairman of the portfolio on the Occupied Territories.
Abbas is considered by many to have been a major architect of the 1993 Oslo peace accords with Israel, largely because he headed the Palestinian negotiating team and traveled with Arafat to the White House to sign the accords.
In 1994 Abbas became the head of the PLO Negotiating Affairs Department.
Also in 1995, Abbas authored an account of the Oslo negotiations entitled Through Secret Channels: The Road to Oslo.
In October 1995 Abbas and his Israeli counterpart, Yossi Beilin, together drafted a document titled “Framework for the Conclusion of a Final Status Agreement Between Israel and the PLO.” Better known as the Abu-Mazen-Beilin Plan, this document was not published until September 2000.
Also in 1996, Abbas was elected secretary general of the PLO Executive Committee.
In some circles, Abbas has cultivated a public reputation as a political moderate opposed to the Palestinian Intifada. This is due to the fact that on a number of occasions, he has called for a cessation of “the militarization of the Intifada.” Some examples:
- In a November 26, 2002 lecture he delivered to the heads of the Popular Councils in the Gaza Strip Refugee Camps, Abbas said: “The weapons in our hands are the rifles designated to be the weapons of the national security forces. Besides this, [we have weapons] smuggled from here and purchased from there. This cannot in any way lead to the realization of the goal we want…. We need, today, for our interests, to stop [the militarization of the Intifada]…. We are not saying we should stop the Intifada, but that we should direct it and remove from it the negative phenomena, particularly the phenomenon of militarization.”
- Five days later, Abbas said, “We aspire to stop the military actions, completely and not partially, as there is no such thing as a partial cease-fire.”
- In a fall 2002 interview, Abbas stated: “The position of the Palestinian leadership and the Fatah [movement] is that we are against the [violent] operations claimed by the [Al-Aqsa Martyrs’] Brigades,” the military wing of Fatah.
But the foregoing statements were not made out of a concern for peace and intercultural harmony, but for political expedience. As MEMRI noted in April 2003: “Rarely has Abu Mazen [Abbas] based his opposition to armed operations on moral arguments. On one occasion, he stated that such tactics were ‘inhuman’ and on another, that ‘killing is not our hobby.’ But the main thrust of his position has been primarily pragmatic. In his view, the military struggle is essentially a strategic mistake, both in principle and in practice.” The accuracy of this assessment is demonstrated by the following Abbas quotes:
- In a July 2002 interview with the Qatari daily Al-Raya, Abbas argued: “We have acted mistakenly with [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon…. We made a mistake when, in response to his provocations, we used weapons—when [in effect] weapons, in a situation like this, are completely ineffective because we are acting against a force that is not equal [to our forces] and against a country that can defeat the [entire] Arab nation at once. If this is the case, it is necessary to use wits [instead of weapons]. Sharon wants war, and we have acted with him as he wished. We have entered his playing field.”
- In an October 2002 interview with the LBC television network, Abbas explained that the use of weapons was “a huge loss for the Palestinians…. We cannot confront Israel militarily. Israel can withstand any Arab country.”
- In November 2002 Abbas said that in principle, “the militarization of the Intifada was a complete mistakebecause we entered into war with Israel at its strong points, and not at its weak points. The strongest thing [Israel] has is weaponry, which is the weakest thing for us.” He maintained that crossing over the line into military struggle was an Israeli trap that had lured the Palestinians into bad moves from a public-relations standpoint.
- In a December 2002 newspaper interview, Abbas said: “All military action must be stopped, both in the occupied territories and within the 1948 [territories]; then [we must] say to the world that we want negotiations. In my opinion, under such circumstances we will be able to embarrass the Israeli government…. But in military action, Israel is much stronger [than we are] and it will exploit [any military operations on our part] as a pretext not [to comply with its commitments].”
- In a March 2003 interview with the London Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Abbas said: “We did not say that we would stop the armed struggle—but that we would stop the military nature of the Intifada. The armed struggle demands conditions and abilities that we do not have in Palestine. We cannot equate what is happening in Palestine to [what happened in] Lebanon or Algeria, and therefore military action under these circumstances is ineffective. Thus, we say that there is no alternative but to stop [the military operations] for one year. This does not imply any concession on our part.”
Abbas has also, for many years, demanded a Palestinian “right of return” to Israel as a “non-negotiable” pre-condition for peace, along with Israeli “compensation” for those Palestinians who do not wish to “return.” For example:
- In a 2000 article in Al-Hayat, Abbas wrote: “It should be noted in this matter, and we clarified this to the Israelis as well—that the right of return means a return to Israel, not to the Palestinian state, because the lands of the PA [Palestinian Authority], which in the future will be the State of Palestine, were not [party] to expelling the refugees, but [were the land that] absorbed them…. When we talk of the right of return, we are talking about the return of refugees to Israel, because it was Israel that expelled them, and because it is there that their property is…”
- In a July 2001 interview with the PA daily Al-Ayyam, Abbas said: “It is natural that every refugee return, to his home, and anyone who doesn’t want to will be compensated.”
- That same month, Abbas told Al-Ayyam: “We made our position clear: [the Israelis] must take historical responsibility and accept the right of return and [that Israel has to pay] compensation for both those who wish to return and those who do not. For those who wish to return, the compensation would be for the use of their property [over the years]. For those who do not wish to return, the compensation [would be for] the value of their property and for their suffering [over the years]. They [the Israelis] must also compensate the countries that hosted the refugees.” (By contrast, in a November 2000 article in Al-Hayat, Abbas rejected suggestions that Jews who had been forced to flee from Arab countries should likewise be compensated: “[W]e will not agree in any way to equate the tragedy of the Palestinian refugees with the Jewish exodus from Arab countries …”)
In a March 3, 2003 interview with the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Abbas called for the killing of Jewish “settlers.” Four days later, Palestinian terrorists murdered Rabbi Eli and Dina Horowitz in Kiryat Arba. Soon thereafter, Mrs. Bernice Wolf, Dina Horowitz’s mother, filed a complaint with the Israeli police against Abbas, charging him with incitement to murder.
On March 19, 2003, Arafat, under international pressure, reluctantly named Abbas the first Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority. But Arafat, from the very outset, undermined Abbas’s authority by refusing to share any real political decision-making power with him.
In his new position with the PA, Abbas called on the terrorist group Hamas to join the new Palestinian government. He offered two cabinet positions to Hamas officials—including control of the Ministry of Education, meaning that Hamas could potentially dictate the contents of all Palestinian school books.
Abbas met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in a June 2003 summit, but the negotiations were derailed when Hamas and other PLO-affiliated terrorist groups continued to carry out attacks against Israelis.
Abbas’s tenure as prime minister was plagued by numerous power struggles between Abbas and Arafat. Abbas also came into conflict with Palestinian terrorist groups, notably Islamic Jihad and Hamas, because his pragmatic policies were inconsistent with the hard-line approach of those organizations. Initially Abbas pledged, in the interest of avoiding a civil war, to use negotiation rather than force in dealing with the militants. This strategy was partially successful, resulting in a pledge from the two groups to honor a unilateral Palestinian cease-fire. However, subsequent eruptions of violence forced Abbas to order a police-enforced crackdown. This led to further struggles with Arafat over control of the Palestinian security services.
The Abbas-Arafat feud came to a head on September 6, 2003. Citing an inability to carry out his duties in the face of continual opposition from Arafat and others in the Palestinian Authority, Abbas submitted to Arafat his resignation from the post of prime minister. HAbbas then presided over a “caretaker” government until his successor, Ahmed Qurei, was sworn in on October 7, 2003.
Abbas resurfaced on the Palestinian political scene following Arafat’s death in November 2004, at which time he succeeded Arafat as PLO Chairman. Later that month, Abbas won the endorsement of Fatah to stand as its candidate in the January 2005 presidential election, for which he campaigned on a virulently anti-Israel platform.
In December 2004 Abbas said of Palestinian terrorists: “Israel calls them terrorists, we call them strugglers.”
In January 2005 Abbas made it explicitly clear that any calls for the dismantling of terrorist groups—like Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine—would not even be considered. Such actions, he said, represented a “red line” that must not be crossed.
At a January 4, 2005 campaign stop, Abbas denounced Israel as the “Zionist enemy” and offered a prayer to “the souls of the martyrs,” a reference to seven Palestinian terrorists who had been killed by the Israeli army earlier that week. Emphasizing the importance of “implementing the principles of Yasser Arafat,” Abbas went on to win a landslide victory in the election for president of the Palestinian National Authority, taking 62 percent of the vote. In his victory speech, he urged Palestinian terror groups to end the use of violence against Israel. Conversely, however, he also proclaimed that the period of the “little Jihad” had ended, “and now the big Jihad is beginning.” Moreover, Abbas dedicated his victory to “brother shahid [martyr] Yasserr Arafat,” and paid tribute to all Palestinian “shahids and prisoners.”
In March 2005 Abbas issued an invitation to the Damascus-based leaders of several terrorist groups—among them Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine—to relocate their headquarters from Damascus to Gaza and to join the PLO in a governing coalition as soon as Israel had completed its planned disengagement from its Gaza settlements.
Immediately after Israel had finished withdrawing its military forces and civilian residents from Gaza in August 2005, Abbas said: “We must remember that our achievements are the result of the sacrifices of the martyrs…. This step will be followed by further withdrawals from the West Bank and Jerusalem.” “We will continue the quest,” Abbas declared on August 30, “until not a single [Palestinian] prisoner is left in the Israeli jails.”
On September 12, 2005, Abbas delivered his first official speech since the Israeli withdrawal. In his remarks, he complained that the Gaza Strip was still occupied because Israel, on the pretext of security concerns, had refused to surrender its control of several access points into Gaza.
On December 5, 2005—the same day that an Islamic Jihad suicide bombing in Netanya, Israel, killed 5 people and wounded more than 40—Abbas signed a law giving monthly stipends to the families of suicide bombers.
When the PA opened its own Rafah border crossing in Gaza in December 2005, Abbas named it in honor of the late terrorist Al-Moayed Bihokmillah Al-Aqha, who had died while carrying out a December 2004 terrorist attack that killed five Israelis.
In May 2006 Abbas condemned Israel’s killing of four Palestinian terrorists in a military operation as a “barbarous slaughter.”
In August 2006 Abbas praised the Lebanese Islamist terrorist group, Hezbollah, for its aggression against Israel, citing the organization as a source of pride and as an ideal embodiment of “Arab resistance.”
In October 2006, Zionist Organization of America president Morton Klein said: “When President Bush asked Abbas to announce that he supports Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, he [Abbas] refused. [Also], it should also not be forgotten that Mahmoud Abbas heads the Fatah Party, a movement whose Charter to this day calls for terrorism against Israel and its destruction. Mahmoud Abbas has never even amended the Charter of his own party.”
In a January 2007 speech commemorating the 42nd anniversary of the founding of his Fatah party, Abbas stated, “We [Palestinians] should put our internal fighting aside and raise our rifles only against the Israeli occupation.” He also praised the late Hamas spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin, who had been assassinated by Israel in March 2004. And he cited a Quranic verse identifying “the sons of Israel” as “those who are corrupting humanity on earth.” “We have a legitimate right,” said Abbas, “to direct our guns against Israeli occupation.” Around the same time period, Abbas declared: “We must unite the Hamas and Fatah blood in the struggle against Israel as we did at the beginning of the Intifada.”
In February 2007, Abbas signed an agreement officially making his Fatah movement a junior partner of Hamas. Explaining the move, Abbas stated that “the only two options facing me were civil war or national unity, and I chose the second.”
That same month, Abbas sent effusive greetings via telegram to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for Iran’s national holiday, Revolution Day, which is celebratedeach year on February 11. According to the PA daily Al-Hayat Al Jadida, Abbas wrote: “I am happy to express to your excellency and, through you, to your honorable government and to your brother people, on behalf of the Palestinian people and their leadership and on my behalf personally, the warmest, most heartfelt wishes, in a prayer to Allah, that He shall bestow on you on this holiday further progress and prosperity.”
In March 2007, Abbas formed a unity government with Hamas—officially defined as a terrorist organization by both the United States and Israel. He installed Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh as PA Prime Minister.
In June 2007 Hamas staged a violent overthrow) of Gaza, stripped all political power from Fatah officials in the region, and dissolved the Hamas-Fatah unity government. On June 15, Abbas dismissed Prime Minister Haniyeh and appointed the Palestinian economist and finance minister, Salam Fayyad, to serve as the head of an “emergency Palestinian government.”Abbas has never recognized Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state. For instance, in when U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced, in November 2007, that peace eventually would come to the Middle East, Abbas steadfastly refused to affirm Israel’s right to exist.
Throughout Abbas’s tenure as head of the Palestinian Authority, the media, mosques and schools under his control have consistently promoted the demonization of Jews and the delegitimization of Israel, along with calls for the latter’s permanent destruction. For example:
- In the weeks leading up to the November 2007 Annapolis [Peace] Conference, Fatah TV—the television outlet of Abbas’s party—broadcast many times each day a song whose lyrics: (a) claim that all of Palestine belongs to the Arabs by “history and identity,” and (b) explicitly name cities and regions of pre-1967 Israel as part of the territorial patrimony of the Arabs—again “by history and identity.”
- A new 12th-grade Palestinian textbook which was introduced in 2007, describes Israel’s founding as a “catastrophe unprecedented in history”—an event in which “racist” and “imperialist” Jewish Zionist gangs had stolen Palestine from its rightful, Arab owners. The book presents the Arab-Israeli conflict as a religious war, and it conveys to students the notion that Israel’s existence and the actions of its Jewish creators are crimes which must be undone.
In the wake of a March 2008 Palestinian massacre of 8 Israeli yeshiva students in Jerusalem, Abbas released, for Western and Israeli consumption, a condemnation of the terror attack. But at the same time, Al Hayat Al Jadida, the official daily newspaper of Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, praised the killer as a “holy martyr.” Indeed, the paper promoted a week-long “wedding celebration” for the killer, to mark his reception into heaven and his marriage to the 72 virgins that are promised to such heroes. Moreover, as Boston Globewriter Jeff Jacoby pointed out: “[J]ust a few days before the yeshiva massacre, Abbas had told the Jordanian daily Al-Dustur—in Arabic, for Arab consumption—that he is against terrorist attacks only for tactical reasons ‘at this time’ and that ‘in the future, things may change.’”
In March 2008 Abbas said to the Summit of Islamic Countries (held in Dakar, Senegal): “Our people in Jerusalem are under an ethnic cleansing campaign. They are suffering from a series of decisions like tax hikes and construction prohibitions. [Palestinians] are facing a campaign of annihilation [by Israel].” Later that month, he told an Arab League Summit in Damascus that “Israel pursues its aggression and occupation” and perpetrates “barbaric attacks, causing hundreds of defenseless victims.”
Also in March 2008, Abbas suspended ongoing peace talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
In May 2008, a report by Palestinian Media Watch asserted that Abbas’s PA government not only supported terror, but was increasingly allying itself with America’s enemies such as Iran, Syria, North Korea, and Venezuela.
In July 2008 Abbas was reported to have “sent greetings to Kuntar”—referring to the Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, who had recently been freed in an Israel-Hezbollah prisoner exchange. In 1979, Kuntar had killed a 28-year-old Israeli man in front of his 4-year-old daughter and then killed the girl by smashing her skull against a rock with the butt of his rifle.
In 2008 as well, Abbas proudly told a Jordanian newspaper that: “We [Fatah] had the honor of leading the resistance. We introduced everyone, including Hezbollah, as to what the resistance means. They were educated in our camps …. At this time, I object to the armed struggle, since we are unable to conduct it; however, in future stages things may change ….”
After the founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, George Habash, died in late January 2008, Abbas ordered all Palestinians to engage in three days of ritualistic mourning. National Review magazine pointed out that Habash: (a) had “utterly rejected Israel’s right to exist and denounced all efforts at reaching a two-state solution,” and (b) was responsible for “masterminding a series of highjackings, the murder of 47 travelers in the bombing of a Swissair flight, and the murder of 27 people at an Israeli airport.” According to the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), “Habash also tried repeatedly to overthrow Jordan’s King Hussein and helped provoke ‘Black September,’ 1970, in which Jordanian troops killed thousands of Palestinian Arabs and drove out the PLO.”
Speaking to the Organization of the Islamic Conference in early 2008, Abbas charged that “our people in Jerusalem are under an ethnic cleansing campaign”; that Palestinian Arabs “are facing a campaign of annihilation” by Israel; and that the weapons of this “ethnic cleansing” included “tax hikes and construction prohibitions.” But as CAMERA pointed out, the truth was quite different: “In reality, since Israel reunified the city in 1967, the Arab portion of the population has grown in both absolute and percentage terms, from 27 to 32 percent.”
In February 2008, official PA television glorified the Hezbollah terrorist Imad Mughniyeh, who had been assassinated two days earlier in Damascus, as “an extraordinary hero” and “a beacon of light.” Said CAMERA: “The Iranian-linked Mughniyeh was implicated in, among other crimes, the bombing of the U.S. embassy, U.S. Marine and French military barracks in Lebanon in 1983, killing more than 300 people; the 1985 TWA airliner hijacking and torture killing of U.S. Navy SEAL Robert Stethem; the kidnapping, torture and murders of CIA Beirut station chief William Buckley and U.N. peace keeper U.S. Marine Col. Richard Higgins; and the bombings of the Israeli embassy and AMIA Jewish community headquarters in Buenos Aires in 1992 and 1994, respectively, which killed more than 110 people. He also reportedly helped lead Hezbollah’s armed units and worked with Iran’s Islamic Republican Guards.”
After Israel in March 2008 killed four terrorists including Mohammed Shehadeh, a Bethlehem-area leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Abbas’s presidential office issued a statement condemning the Jewish state’s “ugly crime” and declaring that “the Palestinian Authority holds the government of Israel responsible for all the consequences resulting from these brutal crimes against our people.”
In the course of an April 27, 2009 address to the Palestinian Youth Parliament, Abbas candidly rejected the legitimacy of Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, drawing enthusiastic applause from his audience. He said: “The ‘Jewish state.’ What is a ‘Jewish state?’ We call it, the ‘State of Israel’. You can call yourselves whatever you want. You can call yourselves whatever you want. But I will not accept it. And I say this on a live broadcast. It’s not my job to define it, to provide a definition for the state and what it contains. You can call yourselves the Zionist Republic, the Hebrew, the National, the Socialist [Republic] call it whatever you like. I don’t care.” (Click here to see a video of Abbas delivering this quote.)
On July 4, 2010, Abbas eulogized mastermind of the 1972 massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, Abu Dauod, who had died the previous day. Said Abbas: “He is missed. He was one of the leading figures of Fatah and spent his life in resistance and sincere work as well as physical sacrifice for his people’s just causes.”
In December 2010, Abbas reiterated his longstanding position that if a Palestinian state were to be established, no Jews would be permitted to enter it: “We have frankly said, and always will say: If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it … [W]hen a Palestinian state is established, it would have no Israeli presence in it.”In a September 16, 2011 televised address to the Palestinian people, Abbas announced that he would soon take the Palestinians’ request for full United Nations member state recognition to the U.N. Security Council on the basis of the 1967 territorial lines, even though he knew that the U.S. had vowed to veto such a resolution. Said Abbas:“We are trying to get a full membership in the U.N., on the ’67 borders, so we will be able, afterwards, to go back to negotiations … during which we will discuss final status issues, Jerusalem, refugees, borders, water, security, settlements and the issue of our prisoners, [who] by that stage will be prisoners of war, not terrorists or criminals. Even if this won’t be the case, they will be our top priority. The decision has been already taken and we aren’t intending to withdraw it. As soon as I give my speech at the UN General Assembly, I will hand the bid to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to pass it to the president of the Security Council.”
On November 28, 2012—the 65th anniversary of the vote to divide the former British Mandate of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab—138 member countries of the UN General Assembly voted in favor of upgrading Palestine to a nonmember observer state of the UN. Only 9 members opposed the measure, and 41 abstained. The new status was expected to give the Palestinians more leverage in challenging Israel in international legal forums for its settlement-building activities in the West Bank and its blockade of Gaza. Hailing the outcome of the UN vote as a “historic achievement” and a “decisive turning point in our national struggle,” Abbas said: “The message to us is very clear. We are not alone. History is with us. The future belongs to us, and God is with us.”
Depicting the Palestinians’ “victory” in the UN as a gift to the “soul of the late leader Yasser Arafat” and a tribute to the “legendary sacrifices and steadfastness” of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, Abbas pledged that his people would continue their struggle against Israel until the Palestinian flag could be raised in Jerusalem, the “eternal capital of the State of Palestine.” He exhorted his fellow Palestinians to “raise your heads high because you are Palestinians and you have proven that you are stronger than occupation and settlements.” Looking forward, Abbas said he now planned to focus his efforts on “accelerating moves to achieve reconciliation [with Hamas].” Hamas responded to Abbas’s call for unity by advocating “urgent meetings” by which the two sides could resolve their differences.
In December 2012, the Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR) issued a report accusing Abbas’s PA of inhumane practices and huma- rights violations against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank—including torture, detentions, interrogations, and the unjustified termination of people’s employment. According to the Jerusalem Post: “From June 2007 until the end of 2011, PA security forces detained 13,271 Palestinian citizens and 96 percent were subjected to various methods of torture, the [AOHR] report said. This resulted in the death of six detainees and caused ‘chronic illness’ in others…. AOHR places complete responsibility for these human rights violations on the Palestinian President Abbas.”
On March 15, 2013, Abbas told Russia Today TV: “As far as I’m concerned there is no difference between the policies of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.”In October 2014, Abbas’s Fatah movement glorified the terrorist who had recently murdered three-month-old Israeli-American Haya Zissel-Brown and injured eight others by intentionally driving his car into a crowd of people who were waiting for a train. Fatah praised the killer as a “heroic Martyr,” posted his obituary on its official Facebook page, and portrayed his death as “his wedding”—again, a reference to the Islamic belief that Martyrs for Allah are wedded to 72 virgins in Paradise.
In a November 18, 2014 interview on Palestinian State TV, Supreme Sharia Judge and Abbas advisor Mahmoud al-Habbash openly admitted that Abbas was inciting terror. Al-Habbash described a recent Palestinian attack that had killed four Jews while they prayed in a Jerusalem synagogue as “Ribat,” a term meaning a religious war or conflict designed to reclaim land designated as Islamic.
On April 17, 2015—the date designated for the annual celebration of Palestinian Prisoners Day—Abbas announced the awarding of honorary medals: (a) to Fatima Bernawi (the first female Fatah member imprisoned by Israel); (b) to Mahmoud Bakr Hijazi (the first male Fatah member imprisoned); and (c) in memory of the late Ahmad Moussa Salama (the first Fatah member who was “martyred” in the cause of the organization’s “national struggle”).
In a September 30, 2015 speech in which he excoriated Israel before the UN General Assembly, Abbas exhorted the United Nations to pressure Israel’s “apartheid regime” to surrender its territory and retreat back to its 1967 borders. The speech was replete with themes of Israeli opression, Palestinian victimhood, and Palestinian commitment to achieving retributive justice:
- “I come before you today from Palestine to sound the alarm about what is happening in Jerusalem. Indeed, extremist Israeli groups are committing repeated systematic incursions upon the Al-Aqsa mosque to impose a new reality … preventing Muslim worshipers from accessing and entering the mosque … and freely exercising their religious rights.”
- “This scheme that the Israeli government is pursuing, in direct violation of the status quo prevailing before 1967 and thereafter. [sic] By doing so, the occupying power is committing a grave mistake, because we will not accept this, and our Palestinian people will not allow the implementation of this illegal scheme.”
- “[The] obvious truth [is that] a “historic [in]justice has been inflicted upon a people and a homeland. A people that have lived peacefully in their land and made genuine intellectual, cultural, and humanitarian contributions to mankind. These people do not deserve to be deprived of its homeland, to die in exile, or be swallowed by the sea.”
- “We [the Palestinians] are advocates of rightness, justice, and peace…. We are working to spread the culture of peace and coexistence between the people in our region.”
- “[Israel continues its] illegal settlement expansion [and its] blockade [of the Gaza Strip]. Why do they do that to us?… Where is justice? Where is justice? Where is democracy?”
- “It is not far from when we will raise the [Palestinian] flag in east Jerusalem, the capital of the Palestine,” Abbas concluded, .
During the first two weeks of October 2015, Palestinian Muslims carried out numerous unprovoked terrorist attacks against Israeli Jews. As Breitbart.com reported: “The ‘third intifada,’ as some are calling this new wave of unprovoked Palestinian terrorism, all started when a Hamas-sponsored terrorist slaughtered a Jewish couple as they were driving around in the West Bank. On the morning of October 13 alone, said Breitbart: “[O]ne individual was killed and sixteen wounded when two terrorists got on a Jerusalem bus and proceeded to go on a stabbing spree. At around the same time, in the same city, a Muslim terrorist killed one person and injured several others when he rammed his car into a group of Jews. After crashing his vehicle, he proceeded to chase down other Jews with his knife and went on to stab them until the terrorist was finally subdued. Fifty miles away, in Ra’anana, two separate stabbing attacks occurred simultaneously with the Jerusalem jihadi mayhem.” In the days immediately preceding this Palestinian terror campaign, Abbas had stated: “Each drop of blood that was spilled in Jerusalem is pure blood as long as it’s for the sake of Allah. Every martyr will be in heaven and every wounded person will be rewarded by Allah’s will.”
When Abbas spoke at a news conference in Berlin with Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz on August 17, 2022, he publicly demonstrated his willingness to draw a comparison between the murderous actions of the Third Reich toward Jews, and Israel’s actions toward the Palestinians. “From 1947 to the present day,” Abbas said, “Israel has committed 50 massacres in Palestinian villages and cities—in Deir Yassin, Tantura, Kafr Qasim, and many others—50 massacres, 50 Holocausts. And until today, and every day, there are casualties killed by the Israeli military.”