Does Abbas intend to run for president after all?

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who signed the decree for this year’s elections, has yet to announce whether he intends to run for president.

In the past 10 years, he said on at least three occasions that if and when elections take place he will not stand. But Fatah strongman Jibril Rajoub has repeatedly stated that 85-year-old Abbas is the party’s only candidate for president.

Polls conducted as recently as December suggest that Abbas would lose in a head-to-head contest against Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. Under the current power-sharing understanding between Fatah and Hamas, however, the Islamist movement has agreed not to challenge the Fatah nominee.

While the largely youthful Palestinian population under occupation has not known any leader other than Abu Mazen (Abbas’s nom de guerre), he faces a mix of apathy and rejection.