Here’s a look at the life of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Birth date: 1935
Birth place: Safed, Palestine
Marriage: Amina Abbas
Children: Three sons Mazen (died in 2002), Yasser and Tareq
Education: Damascus University, B.A.; Oriental College (in Moscow), Ph.D.
His family left the British Mandate area Safed, Palestine, to live in Syria as refugees in 1948.
Abbas laid floor tiles and taught elementary school before earning a law degree.
Was the primary force behind the Palestine National Council’s decision to work with Israeli peace groups.
He is also known as Abu Mazen. (Abu is a slang term to describe the head of a family or father of children.)
1959 - Founding member of the Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah), which became the largest political group of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).
1964 - Fatah joins the PLO.
1967 - Is appointed to Fatah’s Central Committee.
1968 - Joins the Palestinian National Council (PNC).
1980 - Is elected to the PLO’s Executive Committee.
September 1993 - Accompanies Arafat to the White House to sign the Oslo Accords, or the Declaration of Principles.
1995 - Signs the Interim Peace Agreement with Israel.
March 19, 2003 - Accepts the position of prime minister of the Palestinian Authority.
September 6, 2003 - Resigns as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority.
November 11, 2004 - Becomes the chairman of the PLO after Arafat’s death.
January 9, 2005 - Declares victory in Palestinian presidential elections.
May 26, 2005 - Meets with Bush; the first meeting with the Palestinian Authority in the White House since peace talks broke down in 2000. Bush pledges to give the Palestinian Authority $50 million in aid.
May 31, 2005 - Undergoes a successful, minor heart procedure in a hospital in Amman, Jordan.
February 21, 2006 - Asks Hamas leader Ismail Haniya to assemble a government. Haniya is sworn in in March.
June 14, 2007 - Dissolves the government and dismisses Haniya as prime minister. Haniya rejects this and remains the de facto leader in the Gaza Strip.
June 15, 2007 - Appoints economist Salam Fayyad as the new prime minister of an emergency Palestinian Cabinet.
November 27, 2007 - Attends the Annapolis Middle East Peace Conference, the first formal peace conference sponsored by the US since 2000. Top diplomats and representatives from dozens of countries and organizations also attend, hoping to restart stalled Middle East peace negotiations.
April 24, 2008 - Meets with Bush at the White House.
January 2009 - Extends his term in office until 2010, citing a clause in the constitution.
December 16, 2009 - The PLO’s Central Council votes to extend Abbas’s term as president indefinitely.
May 4, 2011 - Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal formally adopt a reconciliation agreement during a ceremony in Egypt.
September 16, 2011 - Abbas announces during a speech in Ramallah that he will pursue a full United Nations membership bid for Palestine.
September 23, 2011 - Abbas submits a statehood application letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
January 3, 2013 - Abbas issues a decree renaming the organization the “State of Palestine.”
December 31, 2014 - One day after the UN Security Council rejects a resolution calling for Palestinian statehood by 2017, and for Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Abbas applies to join the International Criminal Court. This sets the stage for the Palestinian Authority to possibly pursue war crime complaints against Israel.
September 30, 2015 - Addresses the UN General Assembly before the historic raising of the Palestinian flag at the United Nations, saying the Palestinian Authority is no longer bound by the Oslo Accords.
September 8, 2016 - Once-secret Soviet documents, obtained by CNN from the Mitrokhin Archive at Churchill College at the University of Cambridge, claim that Abbas, who completed graduate work in Moscow in 1982, was a KGB agent while he was a member of the PLO in Damascus. Palestinian leaders decry the report as a “smear campaign.”
September 30, 2016 - Attends the funeral of Israeli statesman Shimon Peres and shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
October 6, 2016 - Is hospitalized to have his heart tested.
January 14, 2018 - Abbas calls on the PLO to “revise all the agreements signed between the PLO and Israel because Israel has brought these agreements to a dead end,” and accuses Israel of ending the Oslo agreement. This criticism comes six weeks after Trump announces recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
April 30, 2018 - Abbas speaks at the opening of the Palestinian National Council remarking that the Holocaust was driven not by antisemitism, but by the financial activities of European Jews. He apologizes a few days later.
May 28, 2018 - Is released from the hospital after being treated for pneumonia.
January 28, 2020 - Abbas rejects Trump’s Middle East “Peace to Prosperity” plan, unveiled alongside Netanyahu at the White House, saying at a news conference from Ramallah in the West Bank that “Jerusalem is not for sale. All our rights are not for sale or for compromise. Your deal is a conspiracy and it will not work.” Abbas, having cut diplomatic contact with the US in December 2017, did not attend the unveiling and had not been briefed in the plan.
April 29, 2021 - Abbas announces the postponement of planned parliamentary elections, saying Israel has failed to confirm it will allow voting in East Jerusalem.