Mahmoud Abbas' Poor Ratings 'Not Surprising', Says Official and Here's Why
© AP Photo / Majdi MohammedPalestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks a meeting of the PLO executive committee and a Fatah Central Committee at the Palestinian Authority headquarters, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Wednesday, May 12, 2021.
© AP Photo / Majdi Mohammed
Over the years, the Palestinian president has been slammed for his inability to tackle the acute economic crisis in the enclave as well as Israel's settlement activity in the West Bank. He has also been blamed for the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem and normalisation pacts between Israel and a number of Muslim nations
Nearly 80 percent of Palestinians want President Mahmoud Abbas to resign, a recent poll found, and Dimitri Diliani, a member of Fatah's Revolutionary Guard, who opposes the president, says the survey didn't surprise him.
"Over the past few years, the number of Palestinians that want Abbas to leave office has been around 70 percent but these results were unnoticed by the international community".
His Own Fault?
Now as his popularity has plunged to unprecedented lows, Diliani hopes that "the autocratic and brutal rule of Abbas" will be noticed.
Over the years, the Palestinian president has been blamed for a number of failures.
Internally, he has been held accountable for corruption, the dire economic situation in the enclave, and high unemployment and poverty rates, which have seen a significant spike of late.
He has been accused of contributing to the decline in health services and education, and has been faulted with infringing upon personal freedoms and security.
29 September 2021, 21:37 GMT
In terms of foreign affairs, Abbas has additionally been perceived as a weak leader. He's been unable to get the stalled peace process off the ground and hasn't prevented Israel from expanding its settlement activity in the West Bank.
Internationally, he failed to stop the US from moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018 and couldn't thwart a number of Muslim states from normalising relations with Israel.
Adding Fuel to Fire
But Diliani says that recent months have added more fuel to the already existing fire of public frustration.
"Two major incidents have contributed to the recent drop in Abbas' ratings", said Diliani.
"The first one was Abbas' unilateral decision to suspend the overly due legislative, presidential, and Palestinian Liberation Organisation elections. And the second one was the brutal assassination of a social media activist, Nizar Banat, who opposed his policies".
Those moves have triggered multiple protests across the West Bank. At the beginning of July, shortly after the assassination of Nizar Banat, who's believed to have been killed by the Palestinian security forces, hundreds took to the streets of Ramallah, demanding that the PA chief resign.
Similar demands have also been heard in other major cities across the West Bank, but Diliani says these peaceful protests have been silenced with "brutal violence".
"We have seen how university professors were imprisoned, how women were beaten up, and how the elderly were gassed…".
This is why the Fatah official doesn't believe that Abbas will ever be able to reverse the current trend and uplift his sinking popularity.
"This current trend cannot be reverted for a number of reasons. It cannot be reverted due to the corruption that's paralysing Abbas' diminishing political system, due to the divisions within Fatah, where his faction is a minority, due to the fact that the PA has become a security agent and, lastly, due to his old age and poor health".
For Diliani and many other Palestinians like him, the era of Abbas is long gone but the question is whether the Palestinian president will ever realise that.