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Mahmoud Abbas
(Abu Mazen)
Safad, Palestine
 (1935-    )
Mahmoud Abbas: President of The Palestinian Authority, Born in Safad in 1935, PhD in the history of Zionism from the college of Oriental studies in Moscow.
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Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen)

President of The Palestinian Authority

Formerly Arafat's chief lieutenant and is secretary-general of the PLO's executive committee. A veteran of peace negotiations, he was one of the key players in the secret talks that led to the 1993 Oslo accords and is the former PLO ambassador to Moscow. Abbas met with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in Washington in 2001 while he was in the United States for medical treatment. The position of prime minister was created in March 2003. After a power struggle with Arafat, Abbas accepted the post, appointed new cabinet ministers, and his government was approved by the Palestinian legislature. Arafat retained the final say over negotiations with Israel.

Abbas became the first Palestinian prime minister in March this year, emerging from a relatively low-profile role as secretary general of the Palestinian Authority. Abbas resigned as a Prime Misinter just seven months later.

Born in Safad in 1935, Abbas was among the first wave of refugees to leave in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. He kicked-off his academic career by gaining a BA in law in Syria and a PhD in the history of Zionism from the college of Oriental studies in Moscow.

He moved to Qatar to work as a director of personnel affairs at the Qatari Civil Service where he organised Palestinian groups and came into contact with the then newly-born Fatah movement.

He joined the first central committee, but remained in the background as he was living in Damascus and the Palestine Liberation Organisation was based in Beirut. He has remained a member of the Palestinian National Council, PNC, since 1968.

He led the Palestinian delegation to the negotiations with Israeli General Matityahu Peled which led to the announcement of principles of peace based on a two-state solution (declared on January 1, 1977).

He was a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation - Economic Committee (PLO-EC) from April 1981 and took over the portfolio of the occupied territories after the assassination of his colleague Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad).

He held secret talks with the Israelis through Dutch intermediaries in 1989 and coordinated the negotiation process at the Madrid Conference in 1991.

Besides being the architect of the secret negotiations that led to the Oslo Accords, Abbas also led the Cairo-based negotiations, which have become known as the Gaza-Jericho Accord.

Abbas has been chairing the PLO’s Negotiation Affairs Department since its foundation in 1994, and has served as head of PLO international relations.

He returned to Palestine in July 1995 and was appointed secretary general of the PLO’s executive committee in 1996.

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Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen)