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Encyclopedia of the Middle East

Mahmoud Abbas

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Mahmoud Abbas

Mahmoud Abbas, born 1935 in Safed, Palestine, is Chairman of the PLO  and President ("Rais") of the Palestinian National Authority  as well as General Secretary of the Fatah movement, having succeeded Yasser Arafat upon his death. Abbas, along with Arafat, was one of the founders of the Fatah movement in 1957 in Kuwait. Currently he is identified as a moderate who seeks peace with Israel through a two state solution. However, he insists on the right of return of Palestinian refugees and total Arab control of Jerusalem, conditions unacceptable to Israel. In the past, he had less moderate inclinations. Abbas's doctoral thesis minimized the Holocaust and he is said to have been paymaster for the Black September attack on Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972.

Synonyms and alternate spellings:  Abu Mazen, Mahmud Abbas

Further Information:  Biography of Mahmoud Abbas

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Encyclopedia of the Middle East

Note - This encyclopedia is a work in progress. It is far from complete and is being constructed and improved all the time. If you would like to contribute articles or expansions of existing articles, please contact news (at) mideastweb.org.  Suggestions and corrections are welcome. The concise version of this dictionary is at our Middle East Glossary.

Spelling - Spelling of words in Middle-Eastern languages is often arbitrary. There may be many variants of the same name or word such as Hezbollah, Hizbolla, Hisbolla or Husayn and Hussein. There are some conventions for converting words from Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew There are numerous variant renderings of the same Arabic or Hebrew words, such as "Hizbollah," "Hisbulla" etc. It is not possible to find exact equivalents for several letters. 

Pronunciation - Arabic and Hebrew vowels are pronounced differently than in English. "o" is very short. The "a" is usually pronounced like the "a" in market, sometimes as the "a" in "Arafat."  The " 'A " is guttural.  " 'H "- the 'het ('Hirbeh, 'Hebron, 'Hisbollah') designates a sound somewhat similar to the ch in "loch" in Scots pronunciation, but made by touching the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The CH should be pronounced like Loch, a more assertive consonant than 'het.

The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is not like the English "r."

More information: Hebrew, Arabic

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Mahmoud Abbas