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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 January, 2005, 22:43 GMT
Can Abbas halt militant attacks?
Palestinian Authority president-elect Mahmoud Abbas, also know as Abu Mazen, gestures as he leaves his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has ordered his security forces to try to prevent militant attacks on Israelis, a Palestinian cabinet minister has said.

There are reports that Mr Abbas is trying to persuade militant groups to agree to a truce but Hamas said it reserved the right to resist.

Violence was renewed last week when Palestinian suicide bombers killed six Israelis. Since then Israeli forces have killed about 20 Palestinians.

How should Mahmoud Abbas respond to the renewed violence? Can the new president make a difference in the Middle East peace process?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we received:

I think the world expects too much of him. Ultimately, it is not up to him to declare peace for Palestine. He knows this. Yasser Arafat knew this. If it was up to them, don't you think we would have peace by now? If you really believe that Arafat had a choice and Abbas has a choice, why did Arafat not accept the deal at Camp David? He knew his militants would not lay down their weapons. It is they who profit the most in violence.
Jim, San Diego US

I believe the halt of attacks depends not only on Abbas but a collective responsibilities of all parties involved in this conflict including President Bush. Sharon congratulated Abbas on his election and later announced he would stop contact with him when there was an attack. How can you achieve peace when you don't talk with the other party?
Ansumana Sannoh, Mansakonko,The Gambia

Abbas's promises echo those of Arafat. Let's hope Abbas actually means them. If he does, peace has a chance.
Brian , Kansas City, USA

Until the hate they hold for each other subsides, a will to do anything in peace's name will never go forward
Michael, US
It may take a while for every militant to heed the directive imposed by Abbas but I do believe eventually they will as a means to get inside of Israel to a false peace. Also an Israeli may not want peace either and cause an act that blames Palestinians at an inopportune time for them. Until the hate they hold for each other subsides, a will to do anything in peace's name will never go forward for either side.
Michael, US

The only person who had the ability to unite the Palestinians was Yasser Arafat. Since he is now dead, we can only look forward to a succession of weak Palestinian leaders unable to rein in the militants or deliver on any peace plan.
Tim Bolshaw, Bangkok, Thailand

Nothing will ever change there. The Palestinian and Israeli extremists hate each other more than they desire peace. The best we can do is to deny both sides the means to wage war. If they choose to fashion their own weapons and continue the violence indefinitely, then so be it. The rest of the world needn't be a party to senseless hatred. Frankly I'm tired of hearing about it.
James Battles, Sacramento, California

A long-suppressed truth is finally emerging: the greatest enemy of freedom and democracy in Palestine is not Israel: it's the militant fanatics who know only death, destruction, and fanaticism. Abbas has a golden opportunity to put an end to it once and for all - and in so doing bring to reality the dream of a legitimate Palestinian state. It will take courage. It will take commitment. The world is hopeful.
Mark, AZ, USA

The logic of peace should be burdened by both sides. Not only one.
Michael, London

The American public is also getting fed up with the status quo which favours Israel
Seth, Toronto Canada
If American-style "democracy" fails in Palestine after a largely trouble-free and fair election, what chance does it have in Iraq? The US should be exerting maximum pressure on Israel to seize this opportunity because if Abbas fails, so does Bush's highly touted democratization policy. One senses that the American public is also getting fed up with the status quo which favours Israel.
Seth, Toronto Canada

What can any leader do under an illegal occupation? If the world wants to see Abbas' leadership then Israel must do its bit and end this brutal occupation then the region will see some stability. No matter who is in place as the leader, these attacks will not end until the Palestinian people are free of military occupation by a foreign country.
Armand, Canada

The question should be, can Ariel Sharon be committed to peace and refrain from unjustified attacks against Palestinians?
Nisean Vijay, Toronto, Canada

Abbas could make a positive change, the question is will Israel and the USA allow him to do so. If there is to be peace both sides have to make concessions and uphold treaties, not just the Palestinians.
Angela, USA

It is the militants that find good living in violence
E Julu Swen, Liberia
The fact that the Palestinian militants are always the first to strike at the Israelis suggest that the militants are the standing in the way of peace in the Middle East. I think the Abbas leadership is prepared for peace. It is the militants that find good living in violence.
E Julu Swen, Monrovia, Liberia

Abbas and his Iraqi counterpart Allawi both want to halt terror attacks. But neither has the means to accomplish that objective anytime soon, especially under occupation.
George Haeh, Toronto, Canada

Mahmoud Abbas must get his affairs in order, reform the Palestinian police force, and at least station officers in the northern Gaza strip to prevent the firing of crude rockets and mortars into Israel. This will be a good first step to build confidence.
Anon, Israel

No single person can stop the violence.
Preben Olsen, Arhus, Denmark

The killing of six Israeli civilians is more an attack on Abbas than on Israel. It is an attempt to terrorize a pragmatic politician. He will not be able to survive politically if he fails to clamp down on the militants.
Shosh, Afula

I am disappointed at Sharon's lack of leadership. He should actually meet with Abbas, and tell him face to face.
Ernesto, Israel

Saying all Palestinian militant resistance should stop as a pre-condition to negotiation is absurd
Anonymous, London
The only way Israel will declare Abbas as a partner in peace is if he is ready to capitulate to all their demands. Saying all Palestinian militant resistance should stop as a pre-condition to negotiation is absurd. Militant resistance is one of the only cards the Palestinians have - give that up and what incentive does Israel have for a signing fair settlement? None!
Anonymous, London

What a responsibility the world is putting on this man's shoulders. One can only hope that he is a man who is motivated toward peace, who has a lot of self respect, can think for himself, consider other options if one avenue of approach fails, and will surround himself with like-minded people. It would be a healthy change from what we have seen in recent years in our own countries.
M Clark, UK/US

Why should the election of Abbas make any difference? Whatever the flaws in the process, Arafat too was elected in 1996. The coming election in Iraq is likely to be so deeply flawed as to make a mockery of the criticism raised by Israel and the US at the election of Arafat. The US keeps promising to work with an elected Palestinian leader, but it really means it will work with an elected leader who will do exactly what they tell him to do. Abbas (and all other elected Palestinian leaders) is not likely to be up the required level of being obsequious.
Alan, Wollongong, Australia

Abbas needs to determine if he or the militant's actions lead his people. The latter road has crushed the lives of countless innocents. The former would lead to two separate countries.
David, Portland, OR

People who are proud and respect themselves have one government, one police force and one army. It cannot live with three, four or seven private armies control by foreign countries - no matter what their mission.
Eytan Halaban, United States

Sharon cuts ties with the Palestinians before he even meets with Abbas. The true colours of Israeli policy are showing and all we can talk about is Abbas halting militants - yet again an ignorant public and lazy media will let Sharon get away with his old tricks.
Damien, London, UK

If Abbas does everything he can to stop terror, even if it's not enough, Israel will negotiate with him
Dan, Israel
It doesn't matter: Israel has said more than once that it will negotiate with anyone who tries to stop the terror. If Abbas does everything he can to stop terror, even if it's not enough, Israel will negotiate with him. Maybe we could even see a cooperation in the battle against terror.
Dan, Israel

Until the Palestinian Authority changes its Charter to acknowledge the existence of the State of Israel, there will be no change. Abbas in all his public comments up to the elections did not show one little glimmer of light that he's any different to Arafat, except in his style of dress. The ordinary Palestinians are deluding themselves if they think a Palestinian State is within their grasp. Yesterday's action by the Israeli government says it all - get to grips with the terrorist groups, then we'll play.
Nigel, London

Abbas can halt militant attacks as long as the Israelis assist him by halting all military operations in the refugees camps, as well as allowing free movement of the civilian populations.
Ibrahim-Khalil, Gusau, Nigeria

No matter what Mr Abbas does, the Israelis and Americans will not allow a Palestinian State beside Israel. Present American administration and Sharon's Israeli government are similar and have the same policy which is to ignore the rest of the world.
Gias Ahmed, Stockholm, Sweden

Abbas is only going make a difference so long as he makes himself available to the militants so as to settle down the petty prickly issues causing the mayhem.
Timo, Eldoret, Kenya

Why should Abbas respond? Israel has already done so. Look at what happened in Northern Ireland - change only occurs when all parties are ready. Israel is not ready.
Jack, Essex

To Jack, Essex: You are wrong. Israel is more than ready to end the destructive cycle of violence which is stealing its sons. Abbas can halt militant attacks, but has not shown that he will. He must reform the Palestinian security forces and then use them to reign in the militants such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and his own al-Aqsa Brigade, who use terror to bring down the peace process. Abbas can halt terrorists, but whether he chooses to is his own choice.
Mark, London

Does anyone notice that no-one has answered the question? The answer is simple. Do what he promised to do or get out of the way to elect a leader that will.
Stacey, Baltimore, USA

You have to wonder how long it will be before he resigns in disillusioned frustration
Mark, USA
Abbas is helpless and impotent. Caught between the demands of the quartet for the first step to be the dismantling of the terrorist infrastructure on one hand and the impossibility for him to do it for both internal political reasons and practical reasons on the other, you have to wonder how long it will be before he resigns in disillusioned frustration. Now, during his moment to take decisive action, he will prove utterly paralyzed.
Mark, USA

President Mahmoud Abbas should try and rein in the extremists on his side. The problem is that he either will not or cannot do it. Israel inevitably will have to what ever it can to ensure its security unilaterally without him.
Yoni Simson, Israel

He might just have a chance at creating peace
Darryl LeCount, Germany
If he is prepared to listen to the offers and demands of both the Palestinians and the Israelis, stays strong and maintains his respect, he might just have a chance at creating peace. Give the man a chance.
Darryl LeCount, Paderborn, Germany

Abbas needs to start his new appointment by stopping the terrorists who have already started to undermine his authority by attacking Jewish targets. His people have elected him to show they want peace, He must honour their wishes as a strong leader and clamp down on the real enemy of peace for Palestine, who are the terrorists and not the Israelis!
Mark, London

How can there ever be peace when both parties are so intransigent? It's not a new leader that will bring about peace, it's a new attitude.
Allan, Vancouver, Canada

Abbas' primary goal is not jetting off to the White House, but to cut the hard core views of the militants and thus gradually bring them to his side, then the peace process will begin. Otherwise those militants will only be a clog in the wheels of progress.
Godwin Guobadia, Amsterdam, Netherlands

We have looked for years now at what the Palestinians "needed" to do to become a "partner in peace." Now it is time for us to look at what steps Israel needs to take to make themselves a partner in peace. I would suggest the return to the UN recognised green line and an end to the needless destruction of Palestinian homes. Come on Israel, there needs to be two partners for this to work. I do not want my hope to die here.
Michael, Canada

His people have elected him to show they want peace, he must honour their wishes
Mark, London
Abbas needs to start his new appointment by stopping the terrorists that have already started to undermine his authority by attacking Jewish targets. His people have elected him to show they want peace, he must honour their wishes as a strong leader and clamp down on the real enemy of peace for Palestine, who are the terrorists and not the Israelis!
Mark, London

What is the logic behind this Palestinian attack? After all, in the long run, who will suffer more from the bombing of such an important commercial passageway - the Palestinians themselves, of course! Abbas needs to crack down on these fundamentalists as soon as possible, otherwise they'll destroy whatever he's trying to rebuild, not to mention the lives lost.
Michael, Israel

Democracy in Palestine. Democracy in Afghanistan. Democracy. Democracy in Iraq. Anybody see a pattern developing here? In spite of all the turmoil in the world, I believe we are living in an era of hope and optimism. There will always be the odd terrorist or fringe group, but no-one can deny that democracy has been the biggest single factor in history in bringing peace and prosperity to the world. Good luck Mr Abbas!
Matt Johnson, Guam, USA

Now the formalities are over, the true test begins. Will Abbas dismantle the terrorists and work for peace or will we have more of the same? We watch with bated breath.
Nathan, Australia

Abbas must not betray the many sacrifices made by his fellow countrymen in resisting the Israeli occupation and their theft of Palestinian homes, land and lives.
Avyorth, Devon, UK

Negotiating is a tool
Caoimhin, Mayo, Ireland
Abbas should respond by opening up talks with the militant groups on how to reach a ceasefire. Britain made more progress by negotiating with the IRA than they did in combat. Negotiating is a tool.
Caoimhin, Mayo, Ireland

I hope Abbas will not be controlled by the USA or Israel. As a daughter of Palestinian parents, I want the rights of my parents, relatives, friends, and the entire Palestinian people to be taken seriously. To be treated as a criminal and an outlaw in your own country because of what race or religion you follow is not democracy.
Amani Abukhdeir, Chicago

The question should be: Will Israel and the Palestinian Militants cease their hostilities towards each other to give Mr Abbas a chance to deliver peace in the region?
PB , Germany

This victory won't mean a thing. The Palestinians and Israelis will still have their differences. Land is the big issue here.
Cargill, Boston

Whether it's Abbas or Arafat, Palestinians will not allow their leader to sell out on Jerusalem
Oscar, Brighton, UK
I hate being a party spoiler. But for those with high hopes on this forum, I think it is very naive to expect any side moving from its positions, those that led to the collapse of Camp David? Whether it's Abbas or Arafat, Palestinians will not allow their leader to sell out on Jerusalem and the refugee question.

The situation is mirrored by an immovable Israeli position. Maybe things may slightly improve on the small scale (less check-points, attacks and bombings) and we may witness a return to normal life for a while, but I do not see any difference now on the larger picture: Israel is not willing to give back what it has forcefully taken (see Netanyahu's tough but sincere words) and the Palestinians are not willing to abandon their rights.
Oscar, Brighton, UK

The only difference between Abbas and Arafat is that Abbas is more smartly dressed. He is just as much a disaster for Israel as his predecessor.
Sophia, Jerusalem, Israel

Abbas is a start, not because he is Abbas, but because he is not Arafat. Now, with so much in the world that is far more important: Iraq, Iran and the tsunami, let's hope that Israel gets off the front pages, and gently, quietly, over a long time, peace breaks out.
Jon, Paris, France

It is great to see one Arab leader has been elected with only 62.3% not 99.99%. Mahmoud Abbas is a good balanced man who can handle the job, however he needs the support of the Palestinians and the international community. It is in the hands of Mr. Bush to show to the world that he is serious about democracy in the Middle East - here is a true opportunity.

Mahmoud Abbas needs all the support he can get from the Palestinians and the world. For the Palestinians the exam is far from over, your new born democracy needs protection from you, democracy means; the majority rules, but minorities respected. For the Israelis it is the train of peace, if you let it crash no other will ever come and the war will go for on without end.
M Musa, Toronto, Canada

The burden for peace is now on the shoulders of Abbas. He must be the one to compromise and control the intifada if the seeds of peace and independence are ever going to flourish. Israel can only defend itself against Palestinian terrorists not control them. Only Abbas can become a true leader and lead his people to disarmament and peace.
John, Allentown, PA, USA

I am not a Palestinian, but an average person concerned about worldly affairs and human suffering. I don't care who gets elected as long as peace takes over in the region.
Esra Karatash Alpay, Turkey

Palestinians are more democratic than any other country that USA supports in Middle East e.g. Kuwait, Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia - our friends are despotic, autocratic governments, but we help them and maintain strong relationship. Palestinians deserve independence and freedom and they must get it.
N Khan, San Jose, USA

It will be one of the greatest challenges of the years to come to bring peace in this explosive area

Ruben de Graaff, Delft, the Netherlands
I think electing Abbas is a step forward, but let's not be too optimistic. I think it will be one of the greatest challenges of the years to come to bring peace in this explosive area.
Ruben de Graaff, Delft, the Netherlands

Mahmoud Abbas is part of the process initiated by Israel and the US to locate and push forward individuals within the PLO and other Palestinian organizations, who will not seriously push the fundamental issue - the issue of appropriation of land. Many Palestinians do not support Mahmoud Abbas and they will probably accept his election as just another reality that they are powerless to influence.
DJ, Washington DC, USA

As an American-Palestinian, I am very proud of this new chapter in the Palestinian struggle for Freedom and Statehood.
Fareed Salem, Houston, USA

A democratic consultative exercise is now in progress
Sebastian, London, UK
This election was precipitated by the Arafat's death. Calls for elections during Arafat's lifetime were countered with the claim that the situation in the territories presented insurmountable logistical problems. It is gratifying to see these problems have been overcome, and that a democratic consultative exercise is now in progress. One wonders, however, when the next election for the post being contested will occur.
Sebastian, London, UK

I hope some peace - a fair peace, freedom and equal human rights comes to the Palestinians soon. They have suffered from oppressive occupation for too long.
Dave Harris, Shropshire, England

The road to peace runs through Israel's Knesset (parliament), not the Palestinian National Authority or the White House. Unless Israel is prepared to remove settlers from the West Bank and allow the Palestinians to move freely within their territories, there will never be a lasting peace. After 38 years, too many Palestinians have died and suffered to settle for much less.
Frank, Toronto, Canada

We only want neighbours who want to make peace with us, not to destroy us
Motti, London/Israel
As an Israeli Jew I can honestly say that we in Israel welcome another Arab leader like Sadat who had the vision of the reality that Israel is here to stay. We only want neighbours who want to make peace with us, not to destroy us and make the area a safe and attractive place for all our people to live in.
Motti, London/Israel

I am very delighted with the democratic turn of events amongst the Palestinians. I do hope a lasting peace accord is brokered between them and the Israelis to end the decades of bloodshed.
Abraham Donkor, Accra, Ghana

As a Palestinian of the diaspora who, as such, could not take part in the polls, I regard this election ambivalently. On the one hand, I am glad that Fatah won a clear majority, since this will allow Abu Mazen to forge ahead with much needed reforms. On the other hand, an election that takes place under an occupying power's heel is essentially not democratic, since for democracy to function all members of a nation must have the capacity to vote.
Omar, Dubai, UAE

There was little doubt in most people's mind that Abbas would win. The real question lies in the stance Abbas will take in bringing the Palestinians their long anticipated state. Will he work as a mediator, stepping in where Arafat failed? Or will he take a more extreme approach, denouncing Israel's right to exist?
Louis, Philadelphia, USA

I think it is about time for the world to do something for the Palestinian cause. They have shown maturity and they deserve to get their basic rights. Something that should have happened years ago.
Mustasha, UK

Abbas must abandon the right to return and deal with the facts on the ground
Pete Maher, Huddersfield
Hopefully Abbas will bring some realism to bear on the Palestinians. For too long they have been a victim to their romanticism. A greater Palestine incorporating all of Israel is not on the cards and the longer they secretly harbour after this, the more remote the chance of peace. Abbas must abandon the right to return and deal with the facts on the ground.
Pete Maher, Huddersfield, UK

The crucial election is not this Palestinian one, but the next Israeli poll. Ignore his radical speeches aimed at winning extremist votes; Abu Mazen is a veteran of Oslo that will make the necessary concessions. It is Sharon that has demonstrated his inability to make peace with the Palestinians. It was Labour who came closest in the mid 1990s to making peace, and only if Shimon Peres wins the next election will we see an Israeli government capable of making the meaningful concessions that will put an end to the Palestinian tragedy.
James Coyne, Bedford, UK

Now the hard work and concessions by both must begin
Caroline, New Jersey, USA
Two positive things are happening: 1) The Palestinians have elected a moderate leader and 2) a more centrist government is forming in Israel. This is a scenario with a lot of potential! Now the hard work and concessions by both must begin. I hope it's not too good to be true!
Caroline, New Jersey, USA

As a total outsider, I feel the election of Mr Abbas is a positive step towards peace. What is needed now is a change of leadership in Israel.

Mr Abbas may be a so-called moderate, the major problem may be that he has no moderates to deal with on the Israeli side. Israel will never give up the West Bank in any meaningful way. Just look where their settlements are and where the water comes from. There may be a Palestinian state but it won't be independent. Mr Abbas will be pressured to accept all this and more. I do not think he will do it.
Rey, Spartanburg, SC USA

Abbas' victory places a certain amount of pressure on Israel, for once. As long as Arafat was in power, it was easy to dismiss Palestinian aspirations as militancy, but now a failure to reach an agreement will clearly demonstrate the mutual intransigence of both sides.
Mike, London, UK

There is potential for peace to finally prosper
James Joyce, Chicago, USA
Clearly there is potential for peace to finally prosper. Israel must now also act in good faith as the Palestinians are doing. Presidents Bush and Carter have made this clear. Israel, the world is watching you.
James Joyce, Chicago, USA

Even though Mahmoud Abbas has won the elections, he cannot do whatever he wishes to do. He has to make a balance between the pressures of his people and America and Israel on the other hand. The most probable outcome would be that Abbas would fail to make this balance and the Mid-East situation would continue worsening.
Abdifatah Shafat, Columbus, USA

I have been in the region though not recently. Real questions are, will Abbas stop innocent kids on both sides wielding weapons unintentionally? Can he the stop tears and pains of fathers, mothers and wives from both sides? Can he break the wall of hate which has been cemented over generations due to political and socioeconomic reasons?
Avinash Joshi, Pune, India

Israel will pressure Abbas to give up more. By doing so, he will either become a new Arafat or another Karzai.
Abu Nimir, Palestinian territories

Abbas will be very restricted in what he can do to bring peace to his people
Robert, Canada
I observe Abbas' victory with caution. As long as bands of armed terrorists/militants are roaming freely in West Bank and Gaza, and as long as Hezbollah and Arab regimes are interfering in Palestinian politics - Abbas will be very restricted in what he can do to bring peace to his people. And his desire to do so is still in question, in the Middle East leaders are frequently say one thing but are doing opposite.
Robert, Canada

Congratulations to the Palestinians for voting under difficult circumstances. However, Abbas' victory probably won't change anything. Many governments have decided there will be no peace with Israel, especially Middle Eastern governments. If their populations didn't hate Israel, the governments would become the focus of their rage. If you combine these regional agendas with the anti-Semitism in Europe and the US bias towards Israel, the stalemate is likely to continue.
Kevin, Boston, MA

With around 50% of the eligible voters casting the ballot, Abbas has a good mandate. His approach for liberation through non-violence will only materialise if, and only if, Israel responds with dismantling the settlements inside the Palestinian territories. Otherwise, violence will continue as usual.
Bhanu Thapa, Pokhra, Nepal

Now the ball is on the Israeli side. No matter who won the elections in the Palestinian territories, the whole peace process depends on whether Israel is ready to respect international law and end the occupation immediately. This will happen only if Israel implements UN resolutions without any conditions.
Bilal Qashou, Myslenice, Poland

Two positive things are happening: 1) the Palestinians have elected a moderate leader, and 2) a more centrist government is forming in Israel. This is a scenario with a lot of potential! Now the hard work and concessions by both must begin. I hope it's not too good to be true!
Caroline, New Jersey, USA

With Marwan B. out of the race, this election does not represent a free and fair election
Riaz Amin, Seattle, USA
It goes to show that elections can be held only when USA wants them. The same elections were to be held in January 2004 but weren't because USA didn't push Israel to lift road blocks as it did now. Simply because, USA, as always is interested in getting "its man" elected, and not what Arab public wants. With Marwan B. out of the race, this election does not represent a free and fair election.
Riaz Amin, Seattle, USA

Hopefully Abbas will put the aspirations of his people above his own petty desires and fears, as Arafat did, and create a true partner in peace.
Shana Swimmer, Union Town, Penn. USA

One thing to note about the election is the continuing Israeli Government arrogance. Abbas must do this, Abbas must do that. There are quite a few things Sharon must do but somehow I do not think he will deliver and deny the PA the chance to deliver. Without a significant early shift in policies by Israel Abbas will not be able to undermine popular support for the more extreme Palestinian elements.
M Dudley, County Durham

The choices Mahmoud Abbas makes in the first few weeks of his presidency will determine the vector of the path to peace. With his election is born a possibility that did not exist before. His burden is great. The Israelis really do want peace as do the Palestinian people. They are sick of war and killing. The political leaders must find a way to arouse forgiveness, healing and hope in the hearts of the people and pacify the militants among them.
Madeleine, New York City, USA

There is now a huge problem of over-expectation. Much is promised by Abu Mazen and much is hoped for by his people, who are not usually patient. What will happen when he is unable to deliver quickly? More violence one suspects. Hope I'm wrong.
Mike, Manchester, UK

Abbas will have a hard time getting militants onside
Jason Robinson., Dublin, Ireland
Despite some of his tough talk towards the end of his campaign, I think Abbas' victory is a very positive step for Palestinians. However, Abbas will have a hard time getting militants onside and hopefully putting their arms beyond use and that's with the hope that Israel actually accepts Abbas offer of a 'hand of peace' and works constructively with the Palestinians. The Palestinians have chosen a moderate, co-operative leader, let's hope Israel's Ariel Sharon follow suit in his actions.
Jason Robinson, Dublin, Ireland

The most positive thing I see in the election episode is the rise of Dr Mustafa Barghouti. He is a charismatic and eloquent speaker and shows the signs of a great future leader. He is an outspoken critic of Israeli occupation and the resulting suffering of his people and probably that's why Israelis did not miss any chance to harass him and disrupt his election campaign. I wish Dr Barghouti great success in the development of the nascent Palestinian democracy.
Shafqat, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Jai Gomer from the UK should not mistake our scepticism for arrogance. In a land where a free and open election is an extremely rare event, the world has a right to be pleasantly surprised that things went so smoothly. Usually in the Arab world an election involves only one choice for president anyway, along with the usual bloodletting.
John C, New York, US

The will of the people is expressed. A leader is elected. People begin to talk about peace. Let the dialogue begin in a context of non-violence.
S Cheruvally, Rome, Italy

I'm not convinced that Abbas is going to be the one that will lead the Middle East to peace. I'm also not convinced that Ariel Sharon is going to be the one that will lead the Middle East to peace. The fact of the matter is that each and every avenue to peace should be pursued. Abbas has done nothing at this point to disqualify himself as a potential leader to peace.
Mac Farr, New York, United States

We can live in hope, but Mr Abbas' success depends more on whether the Israeli government chooses to continue allowing the terrorists to determine its response to the Palestinian question or rises to the opportunities that the newly elected Palestinian government represents. It is perhaps also Israel's grander plans for the Palestinian territories that should be under scrutiny.
Tim, London, UK

Why are so many expecting him to make a complete and absolute change of change war into peace on his own? We must remember that any and every small step in the right direction is already worth celebration. Simply having the possibility of dialogue is a great step. Making use of it will be another. Let us not fault him if he cannot fulfil each and every one of our dreams on his own.
Kyuu Eturautti, Tampere, Finland

Abbas clearly has a mandate now - make peace with Israel. The problem Abbas will eventually have to deal with is the militant Palestinian factions. I'm glad President Bush has invited Abbas to Washington. With Abbas, peace has a chance.
Stefve Dandy, Cascade, MD, USA

Two democracies side-by-side in the Middle East, Israel and the territories, will be a historic accomplishment. Abbas only needs to control his militants.
Alfredo, Escazu, Costa Rica

Abbas winning is new beginning, a fresh start for everybody in the Palestinian territories. He is well supported and will change things by bringing peace to the people.
Sandeep, Australia

I don't believe that Mr Abbas will be able to make peace with Israel. We the Palestinians have always said that Ariel Sharon not Yasser Arafat was the obstacle for peace.
Husam Adas, Nashville, TN, USA

Now that Abu Mazen has expressed his ideas regarding peace talks, it's Israel's turn to react optimistically.
Ali Syed, Gosford, Australia

At last a Palestinian statesman is emerging.
Sirish, Durban, RSA

As an American Jew, I hope that Israel will respond positively to Mr Abbas' efforts to find a peaceful solution in Israel and Palestine. This can only happen if Israel recognizes a free Palestine, with contiguous borders and no Israeli settlements; and Palestine and it's Arab neighbours recognize a free Israel, with strong and secure borders.
M Selk, Albany, California, USA

Democracy has won a small but important victory
Jeff, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Democracy has won a small but important victory, gaining a toehold on a turbulent and often chaotic Middle East. Congratulations to President elect Abbas and the Palestinian people, with strong caution for Mr. Abbas to 'watch his back' regarding enemies both within and outside of his governed territories.
Jeff, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

I am stunned at the number of patronising comments here. "What clever little Arabs these Palestinians are, having their very own election without cheating. These are people who have had their nation stolen in full view of the world, suffered death, oppression and exile, and have survived with a strong sense of what it is to be free. They deserve our respect not our arrogance.
Jai Gomer, UK

It will make little difference...those of us who are willing to accept Israel's existence are still threatened and silenced. The PA will continue to be terrorist thugs, and Palestinians will be kept in poverty.
Anonymous, Gaza

Let us hope he will not walk away from an agreement with the Israelis that would have given the Palestinians statehood. Clinton has called that his biggest regret, when Arafat walked away from the Oslo Agreement in 1993. Israel had given the Palestinians everything they wanted at the time yet out of a desire to keep control, Arafat turned it down. May Abbas be a statesman with a vision.
Dwight, Kansas City, USA

He has proved to the whole world that he can restore peace for the Palestinians
Gilsey Sampson, Accra, Ghana
I am confident that Mr Abbas will deliver well. He has proved to the whole world that he can restore peace for the Palestinians.
Gilsey Sampson, Accra, Ghana

Free elections are a blessed miracle in the Arab world. But, independence comes with responsibility. Will this new elected leader stop harbouring terrorists who target innocent civilians in Israel? This is what will make the difference between war and peace.
Ernesto, Rehovot, Israel

I had hoped that this election will bring peace, but I don't think it can anymore. Abbas has drawn so many red lines that he cannot make the compromises necessary for peace without breaking his electoral mandate.
Sebastian Steinfeld, London, England

Here in "The West" we are critical of any election that doesn't go as well as our own, as if ours were as perfect as we like tell ourselves. Just the fact that there has been an election at all is a positive step. That part of the world has been a mess for some time. It won't get fixed overnight. They need our support, not our ceaseless pessimism and ivory tower criticism.
Mark Herndon, Houston, Texas, USA

Let's do a review after one year and see just how much the new leadership has accomplished. I hope the future is brighter, but time will tell.
Russ Black, USA

The idea's are really quite simple. Abbas has to create a stable environment that I believe Blair and Europe support. The US has to stop supporting a state such as Israel that has an interest in land grab. Let's hope for a positive future as it works in a better world for us all, not just the Middle East.
Phil, London, UK

Palestinians have expressed their democratic rights. May they succeed in their search for a homeland.
Haggai, Sichalwe, Lusaka, Zambia

When Arafat died, there were a lot of people expecting chaos, violence, even civil war. Now the Palestinian Authority has managed to hold general elections on time, according to the law, in an organised and very respectable fashion. I think this is absolutely remarkable and hope it is a very good sign for the future.
Anna, Haifa, Israel

I never had any doubt that the Palestinian people, when given a voice/vote, would elect a moderate leader - sending a strong message that they are tired of violence and sincere in a desire for peace.
Andrew Eberle, Whangarei, New Zealand

The elections are a monumental achievement for an Arab nation and a great opportunity for the Palestinian cause. The world is hopeful...
Mark, AZ, USA

While I am pleased to see the Palestinian people choose a new leader via a peaceful and democratic process, I feel that the chances of change are virtually zero. Certainly, Mr Abbas can work towards eliminating corruption in the Authority and further democratisation within Palestinian local politics, however peace is not dependent on the Palestinian leadership, as the result of 10 years of failed negotiations have shown. Unless Israel truly embraces peace... there will be no progress towards cessation of militant activity.
John Giancarlo, Doha, Qatar

It would be admirable if Mr Abbas offered Dr Barghouti a cabinet post, thereby uniting the opinions of the Palestinians
SA, Las Vegas, NV, USA
It would be admirable if Mr Abbas offered Dr Barghouti a cabinet post, thereby uniting the opinions of the Palestinians. There is strength in unity and the balance of ideas would bring about much needed changes in the Palestinian situation. Hopefully, this election will create an opportunity for more dialogue with Israel. It is sad, however, that Mr Arafat did not live to see the beginning of peace. God bless all involved.
SA, Las Vegas, NV, USA

It does not make much difference whether it is Arafat or Abbas. What matters is how the Americans respond. And so far there is nothing to suggest a change in their attitude of pleasing Israel at any cost.
George, Sheffield, UK

Well done, Abu Mazen. If there is to be peace, both sides must make concessions. The only obstacles remaining are the Palestinian extremist groups and the far-right settlers - both of which don't want the other side to exist.
Dan, Hampton, UK

Abbas seems a little dubious. Barghouti seemed like he would offer fresh hope, but without a complete stop to suicide bombings, forced occupation, there is no hope. Both sides need to be involved, learn to share and love the land that is holy to both. Palestinians have a lot of rights in Israel and everyone needs to work together.
Laura, Manchester, England

This result is excellent. It shows that Hamas does not have majority support. If the US withdrew its tacit support for Israeli expansionism in the West Bank the minority support for Hamas could be reduced to the point at which they would lose their ability to disrupt moves towards a settlement.
David Pavett, London, UK

I don't believe the elections were a farce, as many people have claimed. The election may have had its faults, but what large-scale election anywhere has been absolutely flawless? Even the United States, which has been doing this since its inception, has had issues with its elections. But the significance of elections is severely diminished if the same person get elected at every election, as Arafat or Saddam Hussein was. The next step is to put a cap on the amount of time one can serve as president.
Uduak, Brooklyn, USA

It's time for the Americans to give their support now, before it is too late again. This all hinges on American support. Without it the Israelis will make no real effort or concession, and the Palestinians will not see the point in proceeding further.
Alec Wood, Hartlepool, UK

Mr Abbas should be congratulated for his mandate. His thrust should be on development, especially education, health and urban infrastructure. By solving these issues automatically he will get world attention, thus speeding the process of complete nationhood.
Athar Husain, Lucknow, India

To many Palestinians who went to vote in this election, their first wish is to have their own country. I doubt if Mahmoud Abbas will be able to bring that to the long-suffering Palestinians. His victory is meaningless.
Mike Aziz, Vancouver, Canada

Why do people feel the need to be negative about every development? Given the relatively large electoral turnout (66% - higher than the last general election in the UK and the US presidential elections, and even with the boycott of Hamas), to say the election is illegitimate is nonsense. It is strong evidence that many Palestinians have been yearning for democracy for a long time. I hope a democratic Palestinian state will undermine the power of the brutal and repressive dictatorships which make up so much of the Arab world.
Luke Wilson, Mirfield, England

I hope now peace will come into the region forever. Palestinians have suffered long enough. Abbas and Sharon should start right away peace negotiations! This democratic election is victory to the people.
Tedros, South Africa

The only difference between Abbas and Arafat is the new version wears a suit
Shaun, Leeds, UK
What a farce. Do people not remember that Arafat too was 'elected'? The only difference between Abbas and Arafat is the new version wears a suit. The policies if his election rhetoric is anything to go by is 'more of the same'.
Shaun, Leeds, UK

The right man for the right job. Well done to the Palestinian people.
Mervat, London

This election represents a golden opportunity to start afresh and bury old hatchets. Peace must be given a chance at all costs: It is the only solution for both Palestinians and Israelis. At the same time, both sides must be willing to give ground otherwise I fear not even Abbas' election will lead to a final Middle East peace. Political stubbornness and pride seem to be the barriers, whilst the people of both sides are the ones who suffer.
Craig, Stirling, UK

The Palestinian problem is complex, messed up with politics, religion, ignorance and terrorism. However, this is a good start for ground realities to change. But one needs to wait and see how much room Hamas and the Israelis give to make Jerusalem a land of peace.
Vincent, Dubai

I am confident that Mahmoud Abbas will strongly show that being a responsible leader makes a difference.
Binak Hoti, Pristina, Kosovo

Congratulations to the voters and their elected representative. Let us all hope that these elections will lead to peace in Israel and Palestine, and that peace here will lead to peace elsewhere.
Dr Ory Amitay, Haifa, Israel

This will make no difference at all, unfortunately. On both sides there are militant groups that will stop at nothing to have their own way, any deal brokered by their governments will simply be ignored. Time for everyone in the Middle East to grow up, or face the rest of the world getting tired and simply walking away to leave them to it.
Chris, UK

Before anybody gets too excited, Abbas still needs to deal with all the terrorist factions within the Palestinian community, like Hamas. I'm hoping for the best, but I'm expecting nothing, yet.
Dan Braverman, Minnesota, US

It'll take a lot of diplomatic stance and political determination if he is to surpass all the difficulties awaiting him
Helena, Slovenia
He enjoys the great support of the people and that is without any doubt a good start. However, there's still a long path towards creation of a Palestinian state. The support of the people will not suffice. It'll take a lot of diplomatic stance and political determination if he is to surpass all the difficulties awaiting him. He has a great responsibility lying upon his shoulders. I wouldn't like to be in his shoes.
Helena, Slovenia

Mr Abbas' victory must seek one cardinal thing - give the Palestinian children the opportunity to live in a country free of violence. Negotiate well with the Israelis, fight to improve the economy so that others will not take advantage of your fragile economy. The new leader must tell Hamas to their faces that war does not make the Palestinian people more well off.
Adolphus Wade, Monrovia, Liberia

As with his predecessors, Abbas will be granted a historic chance - to accept or decline some farce of a "peace plan" concocted by Bush and Sharon without Palestinian representation. If Abbas dares stand up for the rights of his people and decline, he will be dismissed as a terrorist and the religious extremists holding power in Tel Aviv and Washington will breathe a collective sigh of relief. Meanwhile millions of innocent, impoverished, stateless Palestinians will continue to suffer.
Richard, San Jose, USA

If the Israelis cannot control Hamas with all their technology, weapons and training, how can Abbas, or anyone else, be expected to prevent attacks on Israel? In Ireland the British talked to the IRA, Israel must do the same with Hamas.
Simon Brown, Belfast

If the results are seen as reasonably fair and accurate then the world and especially the US must honour the democratic vote, otherwise what is the US army doing in Iraq if not to set up democracy?
Roger, Santa Cruz USA

The Palestinians have once again demonstrated their genuine desire for democracy. Beyond a doubt they are the most Western-looking population in the Arab World. If the Bush administration truly wishes to reform the Middle East, let them start in Palestine by not failing the Palestinians yet again.
J E D'Ulisse, Rome, Italy

These elections were held without considering more than four million Palestinians outside the Palestinian territories. Any final state agreement reached between the Israelis and the new president will be irrelevant simply because he lacks legitimacy.
Ahmed Makadema, Manchester, UK

A turnout of 66% is significantly ahead of turnout in the recent US elections so who's giving who a lesson in democracy?
Michael, Nieul-sur-mer

I personally am not convinced Abbas himself will be the one to finish the peace process off in Israel
Darren Bennett, Wellington, New Zealand
The vote itself has been a huge democratic step forward for Palestinian people, of that there is little doubt. But I personally am not convinced Abbas himself will be the one to finish the peace process off in Israel.
Darren Bennett, Wellington, New Zealand

I'm glad they didn't elect a person like Bush or Sharon. Palestinians have shown a departure from extremist views which Israel and the USA could learn from.
Andy, USA

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