While Mahmoud Abbas likes to give the impression to the West that he is politically weak and does not have the power to make concessions to Israel, in fact he has been quietly building his political power base within the PLO and Fatah.
Today, he appointed one of his own, Sa'id Abu Amara, to be head of a new PLO political department headquartered in Ramallah.
The reason this is significant? Because his last major critic from within the PLO, Farouk Kaddoumi, who has been the official head of the PLO's political department in Tunisia, was not even consulted. Observers believe that whatever vestiges of power that remained in Tunisia under Kaddoumi will now be effectively transferred to Ramallah, under Abbas' watchful eye.
Almost exactly a year ago, Abbas had begun to marginalize Kaddoumi.
In August 2009, Abbas managed to strengthen his hold of Fatah, meaning that he is now the unquestioned leader of Fatah, the PLO and the PA.
So when Abbas says he cannot negotiate, or he is unwilling to compromise, it is his decision alone.
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