Wins Palestinian Election, Raising Hopes for Peace||
Abbas won the Palestinian presidential election Sunday, raising hopes for the
possibility of a separate Palestinian state at peace with Israel.
results showed that Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, received 62 percent of the
vote to replace Yasser Arafat, who died Nov. 11, 2004. His main opponent, independent
candidate Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, received 20 percent of the vote.
the moderate leader of the Fatah political party who has the support of the United
States and many in the international community, has spoken publicly against suicide
bombers and other violence and pledged to reform the government.
is a difficult mission ahead to build our state," he said Sunday night. "To
achieve security for our people, to give our prisoners freedom, our fugitives
a life in dignity, to reach our goal of an independent state."
Arafat before him, Abbas wants a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip
and east Jerusalem, as well as a solution for Palestinian refugees who were forced
to leave their homes when the Jewish state was founded in 1948.
for peace with Israel |
Israeli leaders, including
Labor Party leader Shimon Peres, praised Abbas and expressed hope that peace talks
between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, which broke down in 2001, could resume.
moderate man was elected, an intelligent man, an experienced man. Let's give him
a chance. There is a new legitimate Palestinian leadership whose leaders definitely
are against terror and war," Peres said.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon plans to meet with Abbas soon, according to his aides.
Abbas also has the difficult task of reining in armed militant groups, who have
used violence and terrorism to fight Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories.
he fight against the terrorists? Will he try to stop this bloody, violent war
against the state of Israel? This is the main question," Israeli vice premier
Ehud Olmert told CNN.
The largest Islamic militant group, Hamas, pledged
on Monday that it will work with Abbas, despite earlier calls to boycott the election.
election, the first for president in nine years, proceeded largely without incident.
For many the most important outcome of the election is the advancement of democracy.
is a historic vote for us," senior Fatah leader Ahmed Ghnaim told The Washington
Post. "The most important thing is not the winner. The most important thing
is to see the Palestinian people committed to the principle of democracy."
Palestinians hope Abbas can end the four years of violence that has resulted in
the deaths of thousands of civilians and ruined the economy.
is the beginning of a new future," said Sami Radwan, 55, a restaurant owner
in Gaza City. "Abu Mazen is the right choice. He is the one who can bring
us peace, good business and security."
the United States, President Bush said the elections were a "historic"
step toward a Palestinian state.
"The United States stands ready to
help the Palestinian people realize their aspirations," Mr. Bush said.
new Palestinian president and his Cabinet face critical tasks ahead, including
fighting terrorism, combating corruption, building reformed and democratic institutions
and reviving the Palestinian economy."
The president also announced
he would welcome the newly elected Palestinian president to the White House, a
gesture he denied the late Yasser Arafat.
by Annie Schleicher for the Online NewsHour