Recent days have seen protests demanding the resignation of the Palestinian leader

Pressure mounts on Mahmoud Abbas as Israel-Hamas war intensifies

El presidente de la Autoridad Palestina, Mahmoud Abbas - AFP/ADEM ALTAN
AFP/ADEM ALTAN - El presidente de la Autoridad Palestina, Mahmoud Abbas

The popularity of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been declining in the West Bank for some time now. The lack of elections, the low standard of living of citizens and his security cooperation with Israel are some of the issues most criticised by his opponents.

Many of his critics believe that Abbas is disconnected from the reality and suffering of the Palestinian people, and that the Palestinian Authority "is increasingly assimilated, either by inaction or by cooperation on security matters, to Israel's policies", as political scientist Xavier Guignard points out to AFP.

According to data published by the Palestinian Center for Survey and Policy Research last September, 68 per cent of Palestinians want Abbas to step down. The figures also show that some 58% of respondents support the "armed struggle" to end the "Israeli occupation" compared to 20% who favour a negotiated settlement. On the other hand, 24% favour "peaceful resistance".

Abbas's popularity has declined markedly with the outbreak of the conflict between Israel and Hamas on 7 October, reducing the chances of him assuming power in the Gaza Strip in place of the terrorist group.  

While a large number of Palestinians are unhappy with Hamas's rule, as evidenced by the demonstrations in Gaza this summer that resulted in deaths and disappearances, many others have chosen to defend the organisation in the ongoing war with Israel.

For this reason, after the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, published statements by Abbas stressing that "Hamas's policies and actions do not represent the Palestinian people", many citizens have expressed their rejection of these comments and the West Bank leader. Subsequently, due to the wave of criticism, the statement was removed. 

Abbas, unlike many Arab leaders, has also condemned the killing of civilians "on both sides", a position he reaffirmed during his meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Amman last week.

Anger against Abbas in the West Bank grew markedly after the attack on Gaza's Al-Ahli hospital, an incident that several analysts have linked to a failed missile launched inside the Palestinian enclave itself.  

This catastrophe triggered a wave of protests across the Middle East against Israel and the US. Demonstrations also took place in the Palestinian territories, such as in Ramallah, the administrative capital of the West Bank, demanding Abbas' resignation for his stance and inaction in the face of the war. There were also clashes between demonstrators and members of the Palestinian security forces in other cities such as Nablus, Tubas and Jenin.