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Mahmoud Abbas

(b. 1935) Palestinian statesman

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(b. 26 Mar. 1935).

Palestinian President 2005–  Born in Safed, he went to Syria in 1948, and studied both in Damascus and in Moscow. After his return he co-founded al-Fatah, and from 1968 he was part of the ruling circle of the PLO, under the leadership of Arafat. He represented the PLO at the talks that led to the Oslo agreement of 1993. Trusted by Israel and the international community, he was effectively sidelined by Arafat, who strove to concentrate all power in his hands in the last years of his life. After Arafat's death, Abbas became chairman of the PLO in 2004, and he was sworn in as President of the Palestinian National Authority in early 2005. Also referred to as ‘Abu Mazen’, Abbas struggled to assert his authority over more radical groups inside Fatah and other groups who continued their attacks against Israel. Following the 2006 elections, Abbas entered a power-sharing agreement with Hamas in 2007. This broke apart months later, when Hamas effectively gained sole control over Gaza. He remained in control of the West Bank.

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