International community lays big hopes on new head of Palestinian Authority

Even radical members of Hamas expressed their willingness to cooperate with Abbas

The election of the Palestinian Authority took place last Sunday. According to preliminary information from the local Central Election Committee, Mahmoud Abbas became the undisputable leader of the election, having gained 62.32 percent of votes. His closest rival, independent candidate Mustafa Barghouti, is more than 40 percent behind Abbas with only 19.8 percent of votes.

Abbas's victory at the election was not a surprise at all. All opinion polls that were conducted prior to the voting proved that Abbas enjoyed the undoubted advantage. One may say that nothing could have stopped Mahmoud Abbas from winning the election, unless something completely extraordinary had happened. It goes without saying that Abbas is not the perfect figure for all Palestinians, but they are not going to launch a civil war because of that. Even radical members of Hamas, who boycotted the current election and accused Abbas of his disposition to agree with Israel, announced that they were willing to cooperate with the new head of the Palestinian Authority, when the results of the election were exposed.

It is noteworthy that it will not be an easy task for Abbas to cut the Gordian knot of Palestinian problems. The most important one of them is the regulation of the conflict with Israel. The new head of Palestine will have to face a lot of obstacles at this point. Both Israel and Palestine will have to make concessions to each other. It is not known, though, how far Abbas will be ready to go. He might bid farewell to his current popularity, if common Palestinians decide that Abbas gives too much and takes too little. One should bear in mind numerous extremist groups that will most likely try to gain the majority at the election to the legislative assembly of the Palestinian Authority in July. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other groups will find many ways to make Abbas's stay at power quite challenging.

On the other hand, the international community lays big hopes on Abbas. Israel, the USA and the European Union believe that Mahmoud Abbas will be the right politician to put an end to the outburst of terrorism in the war-torn region. It is not ruled out that leading countries of the world will turn a blind eye on his carefulness in the decision-making process as far as extremism is concerned. But the languid period will not last long. Israeli and Western politicians are expecting the new Palestinian leader to take decisive measures when the election is over – they do not take into account “specific local factors” in this respect.

This is only one of many other problems that the new head of the Palestinian Authority will have to deal with. One may add other well-known problems on the list too: the lamentable situation with the Palestinian economy and corruption. Abbas will probably decide to use the following principle to solve a part of the above-mentioned issues: peace in return to money. The West, however, might not approve such a method of regulating the conflict situation with Israel.

In general, one may say that Mahmoud Abbas has a bright perspective in his future political career. The Palestinian nation, as well as leaders of other states involved in Mideastern events have granted their recognition to the new PA leader. Time will show whether Abbas justifies their hopes or not. It will be possible to come to a certain conclusion already in the next few months.

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Author`s name Olga Savka