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Middle East

Abbas urged to reconsider

November 09, 2009|Times Wire Reports

Supporters of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas turned out in the West Bank to urge him to run again for the presidency after his announcement last week that he did not want a second term.

Waving flags, they greeted Abbas as he conducted a rare tour of towns in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, part of the territories where the Palestinians aim to establish a state.

The Fatah movement, which Abbas heads, had called for the show of support.

"We need you," Hebron Gov. Hussein Araj told Abbas during a reception. In a short address, Abbas did not respond to their calls.

Many analysts believe his announcement could be a tactic to prompt the United States to put more pressure on Israel to halt all West Bank settlement building -- a step demanded by Abbas for the resumption of peace talks.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a settler heading an ultranationalist party, said he didn't take Abbas' threat seriously. But Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat reiterated that the announcement was not a tactic.

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