Palestinian Authority Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas has allegedly announced he is stepping down.
Israeli television Channel 10 news reported Wednesday, based on a statement from a Palestine Liberation Organization official, that Abbas gave the organization just 10 days to find a replacement.
The announcement comes against the backdrop of severe financial difficulties in the PA, with a so-called "PA Winter" on the way. Prices are rising along with unemployment and economic hardship -- and donor nations that have pledged support are having a tougher time coming through with their promises. That's a bad thing for an entity that relies almost entirely on foreign aid to run its economy.
But this is not the first time that Abbas has made such an announcement -- nor if he backs down, would it be the first time that he chooses to do so. In 2010, Abbas also threatened to resign, if direct negotiations with Israel failed.
In fact, Abbas has threatened to resign at least 15 times since 2003, according to several analysts who added his pronouncements are no longer taken seriously.
Abbas's four-year term of office technically ended in January 2009. But he insisted on remaining for an extra year due to the fact that “presidential” and parliamentary elections were supposed to occur together.
But PA elections have not been held since the Hamas terrorist organization won by a landslide in January 2006. Within six months, IDF soldier Gilad Shalit had been kidnapped by Hamas-linked operatives in a cross-border raid near the Gaza border, Hizbullah terrorists kidnapped two IDF reservists on the northern border and Israel found itself in the double-front Second Lebanon War.
In November 2009, Abbas again announced he “didn't want another term in office” and would not seek “re-election” as head of the Palestinian Authority. He blamed the decision on the stalemate in final status negotiations with Israel. Most saw the tactic for what it was; a means of angling for more “good will” concessions on security issues from Israel.
And Abbas remained.
The PA chairman, Fatah leader and former PA prime minister also threatened to quit twice in 2008, once in June 2007 (the same month Hamas wrested the Gaza region away from the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority for good), four times in 2006, twice in 2005 and five times in 2003.
Sometimes he also threatens to dissolve the Palestinian Authority itself, along with resigning his own position.
This past weekend, Abbas proposed canceling the 1993 Oslo Accords with Israel – the framework under which basic peace and mutual recognition with the Palestinian Authority was formed in the first place.
Earlier this month, the PA asked Israel for talks on amending the Paris Protocol – the 1994 agreement governing economic ties between the two. The PA has banned any import and sale of Israeli goods produced in Judea and Samaria into its territory, and sends out officers to destroy any inventory that PA merchants might have that was produced by their Israeli neighbors.