Inside the Middle East - Blog
April 23, 2008
Interviewing Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas meets with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Wednesday, April 23, 2008, at his hotel in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Because of an opportunity to interview Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Washington, D.C. this Friday, I've delayed my Inside the Middle East trip to the Gulf by a few days.

Mr. Abbas is scheduled to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush in the nation's capital.

Ahead of this exclusive chat, I'm asking our readers and viewers to submit questions they would like to ask the Palestinian leader.

What does he think of Jimmy Carter's meetings with Hamas officials? What did he speak about with President Bush? How does he respond to criticism of his leadership? Will there be a peace deal in the Middle East this year?

I will choose one and read it to Mr. Abbas on air.

E-mail us at or add a comment below.



I've got a question:

What is Mr Abbas's ultimate aim as president of the Palestinian Territories? Half of his country's government is viewed as a group of terrorists by most of the world, yet unless he cooperates with these Hamas 'terrorists', he knows peace will never be possible. Unless there are some drastic changes, is peace ever really going to be possible while there are so many opposing views?
I have got a question:

How can mr.Abbas view the current administration and especially president Bush and secretary Rice as honest brokers?
While he is wasting his time talking to them,Israel is murdering dozens of innocent people including women and children.
Confiscating their land,uprooting thousands of olive trees and planting those trees in Israel.

You should ask him how can he consider the U.S to be even-handed when an israeli child is killed or even wounded the state dept. and the white-house are quick to denounce,but when dozens of palestinian children are murdered by a brutal occupation army you don't hear a sound.

Does the current administration value Israeli blood more than mr. Abbas's people?
Question to Mr. Mahmoud Abbas
Why do many people pressure palestinians to recognize Israel as a country and they don't do that with Israel to accept a Palestinian country?

Antônio Carlos Bordin
Other than peace, what would Mr. Abbas like to accomplish as leader of the Palestinian people?
what do you think of jimmy carter
Mr Abbas,

Why did you not relinquish control of the government and more importantly the security forces to Hamas after they won a majority of the seats in a free & democratic election.

Why are you know acting like Hamas are the aggressor for taking what was legally there's due to your agreement with the USA & Israel to snub the elections.

Due you find it ironic those same 2 countries pushed you to have elections when you knew Fatah would lose to Hamas in a lanslide?
What does Mr. Abbas think about the Jewish people's historic connection to the land of Israel?

What does Mr. Abbas think of the continual erosion of his people's rights in the surrounding Arab countries?
Assuming for the sake of argument that Israel completely withdrawals from the West Bank and removes all the Jewish settlements that are on the "wrong" side of the 1967 border, does President Abbas believe he has the political power, financing, and military structure to prevent the type of coup by Hamas that occurred in the Gaza Strip? If he does not believe Fatah can keep control of the West Bank in the event Israel withdrawals, would Fatah consent to assistance from, for example, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, or the UN?
Can the Israeli government negotiate a lasting peace with a Pelestinian government that has no control over large, armed and hostile factions that are opposed to Israel's existence? If the Palestinain government cannot or will not control the actions of those groups, can that government negotiate in good faith?
It seems to me that if the Palestinians would follow the lead of such people as MLK, Jr. or Ghandi, they would be able to accomplish much more in a much shorter time with quite a bit less bloodshed. Why has this not happened? Is this just a major cultural difference?
I have a Question:
Given the vastly different approaches to dealing with Israel even within the Palestinian groups, a common palestinian voice does not appear to be iminent. How important is a common voice to any peace deal.
I would like the president to let us know why are his men in the Palestinian Authority, are getting very rich with fancy cars and big house at the same time the Palestinian roads, schools and health institutes are in a very bad shape. Just to remind the president that’s why the extremist Hamas group gained some unwanted voice within the Palestinian community.


Mr Abbas, in your opinion, how can Palestinian leadership accomplish peaceful, stable, democratic Palestinian State? (emphasis on "Palestinian leadership")

David Abayev
1. The "Palestinian" people claim that Jerusalem is their capital city--or that it should be the capital of the future state. So why isn't Jerusalem even associated with Islam at all, since it is not mentioned in the Koran even ONE TIME????
2.Why was there no demand for a Palestinian state before 1967 when Israel captured the territories then held by Jordan???
3. You keep asking for Israel to do this and do that while negotiations are going on. What has the "Palestinian Authority done to increase confidence in the genuineness of its peace declarations? Has the anti Israel and anti'Jewish propaganda in the PA media stopped? Why did you want to honor some sucicidal terrorisrt women recently and only recanted after Israel pressure?
4. Why do you insist on getting rid of all Jewish settlements in Judea and Sammaria, making them Judenrein, while at the same time refuse to recognize the right of Jewish to one state on this earth--Israel???
5. Are you sorry that you receive your doctorate for a thesis that denied the existence of the Holocaust? Did the Holocaust exist in your opinion today
Hananel Weber
Netanya, Israel
Hello, I have the following question to Mr. Abbas.

After having a fair election, Palestinians overwhelmingly voted for Mr.Ismail Haniyeh to be the prime minister of Palestine, can you really justify undermining this democratic process simply because the west and Israel favors and supports you over Mr. Ismail Haniyeh?
How do you respond to accusations in Vanity Fair's April 2008 article , "The Gaza Bombshell," that the U.S. planned "to provoke a Palestinian civil war" and "to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power" which led to the current debacle of Hamas-controlled Gaza?
Mister Abbas,

Their is a lot of criticism on Hammas and a lot of it sounds reasonable. However since Hamas was democraticly chosen as the number one party, do you think it is a good idea to not include Hamas in open talks abouth the future of a Palestinian state?
In response to Hananel Weber, Netanya, Israel:
1)Please, for example, see 17:1 for a mention of Jerusalem. It may be other verses, but that was the one I found in about 2 minutes. In any case, why would this matter? If the Koran stated that the the U.S. belonged to Muslims, would that justify an invasion? Certainly not. In the same way, the systematic genocide of the Palestinians in the 20th century was not justified based on ancient Jewish ties to Israel.
2)This question makes no sense and, like 1, is based on false premises
3)Between U.S. and Israel interference (provoking civil war, contributing to food, water, electricity shortages) it is undoubtedly difficult for Mr.Abbas to inspire confidence--no doubt, that is the Israeli intention.
No excuse--if true given that the credibility of this writer is doubtful--for any honoring of violence.
4)Once again, untrue fact. Mr. Abbas DOES recognize Israel. Please stop confusing moderates with extremists.
5)I have never heard of Mr. Abbas denying the Holocaust. Again, given the lack of credibility demonstrated, it is unlikely that this is true.

I hope CNN chooses questions from those people who are not disseminating lies.
Who do you believe is/are the Palestinians' greatest obstacle to peace: Israel or the Arab nations? The Arab and Muslim world uses the Palestinian cause as a pawn to further their individual political and religious agendas, to foment unrest and direct hatred away from their self-serving governments. How can you hope to truly garner support for peace when most of the surrounding nations do not have the Palestinians' interests at heart, but their own?
Why do think you can be a head of the Palestinian people if you can't defend yourself from Hamas and if the people also support Hamas?
Question: Does Mr. Abbas believe the Palestinian people are the pariahs of the Arab/Muslim Middle East community, being victims from decades, centuries of maladroit Middle East foreign policies from the various Western powers? Do the other influential Middle East nations let the Palestinian people to suffer as long as they have to highlight these failed policies? If peace can be obtained between will relations between Middle East nations and Western powers improve?

Thank you.
Mr. President, assuming that a Palestinian state becomes a reality do you believe that without the support of Hamas and its followers it will be sustainable and peaceful in the knowledge that for every Hamas attack to Israel, Israel will invade the Palestinian state?

Artur de Freitas
South Africa
Why does he continue to be a puppet of the United States and Israel when it accomplishes nothing for his people?
With all the tens of billions of dollars that have been donated to the Palestinian Authority over the years, why are the people complaining of not enough food, poor infrastructure, etc. Why has the money been spent PRIMARILY on weapons to fight against Israel and on PA TV programs intended to teach children to hate rather than on what's really needed for the people who live under your authority?

Shoshannah from Jerusalem, Israel
Oops - the name for the first comment on this page should be 'Richard Smith', not 'blogearth'. Sorry!
Why do the Arabs in this area of the Middle East choose to term themselves "Palestinians" when the name "Palestine" is not Arabic but rather the Roman term they employed to eradicate any reference to Judea whose residents, Jews, twice revolted against them and who were exiled from their homeland? If there is a genuine Arab past to this territory, why is a foreign language name used?
Mr. Abbas....who do you think benefited from the 9/11 attacks on September 2001?
Mr. Abbas,
You started to care more to be a President of an "entity" that really means nothing to the world, than you care about the people of Plaestine.

The question is: when you will honor the will of thw palestian people and bring back the Ligitimate Goverment that was elected by the people?
Are you willing to give the Palestinian rights of returns for peace?

Hing Kong
In defense of mr. weber, mr Abbas does recognize Israel as a state but questions its jewish identity. Are jewish people welcome to buy homes, start businesses, flourish in the future Palestine? Will your government afford him protection? How safe is an Israeli civilian who wanders into Palestinian teritories? Considering all that, is the name Jewish State so concerning?
Mr Abbas

What is your response to Fatah anniversary map showing all of Israel as "Palestine" & what is the anticipated response of the Palestinian governing body if the so called "peace process" crumbles and there is no recognition of a Palestinian state?
I find sports bring people together.

I’m not sure if the Palestinian has any sports programs. I’m sure you have people that love sports.

Would you consider having a friendly game of soccer, basketball, cricket, etc……….. against Israel? If not Israel, against any western countries? European country?

This should also be televised so that the world can see how sports bring people together. So that the world can see that we’re trying to solve this long problem. We should be having kids rooting for their country rather then thinking they should be fighting.


Why don't you recognize the Hamas Government? They have been elected democratically? Is it because the US rejected it?
Why Miss Rice has to attend the Gulf States meeting this week? She has no place to be there at all.
I don't think that there will be peace in the Middle East unless Israel relinquish all the territories she occupied in 1967 including
the Golan Heights of Syria, and the right of the displaced Palestinians are considered and be compensated for by the Israeli and US.
Do you think of another plan other than that?
Are you afraid of Iran? Iran has no threat to the Moslem and Arab world.
Fayek Megeed
Mr. Abbas< what about Jerusalem?
will the Palestinians be satisfy with east Jerusalem or will they fight till they get all of Jerusalem.?
Do you think it is possible for the people of this region to one day leave their religious differences in the temples and mosques and have a society where it is more important to teach our children about being civilized? I'm not trying to be naive or glib but for one am fed up with thousand(s) year(s) old religious documents from the middle east impeding the progress this world desperately needs. This goes for the Christians, too.
President Bush told Israel at Anapolis to freeze settlement activity and then we read in the Washington Post yesterday that Bush secretely gave a letter to Ariel Sharon in 2004 which said that Israel could expand its settlements. This was reconfirmed -- again secretely -- by Rice in 2005. Don't you feel that you are being deceived by both Israel and the United States?

South Africa

My name is Idan Plonsky and I live in Haifa, Israel. I would really appreciate it if you could choose my question and ask Mahmoud Abbas the following question:

"Just before Israel has withdrawn from the Gaza strip, there was a majority in Israel (including me) hoping for peace. We thought that once we let you, the Palestinian people, live without us controlling you, you will take this chance with both hands, and will let us live.

Instead, the Hamas took control over the Gaza strip, and Israel is being bombed by terrorists with missiles, where their sole purpose is to kill civilians.

The majority of the Israelis believe now, that if Israel withdraw from the west bank, the Hamas will also take control over the west bank. We think that your English speeches that are aimed for the world, are different from your Arabic speeches that are aimed for the Palestinian people from the relation to the peace process and from the relation to Israel point of view.

My question to you is:

The people of Israel are tired from your talking and they want actions. Can you describe what actions you took as part of the war against terror in the past 6 months?"

Thank you very much,

Idan Plonsky

Haifa, Israel
Do consider Israel or Iran more of a threat to the stability of the Middle East especially with regards to nuclear proliferation?
Mr. Abbas
Does United State's really wants peace?
Does Israel really claims that "you" or the Palestinians people wants to wipe of Isreal out of the face of the map, when it is she, who is capturing all the lands, changing borders, uprooting trees, controlling all civilian and political life inside Palestine, and controlls the amount of food, oil, and even the elctricity that passes into Palestine. Why does Isreal gets $15million dollars each day and Palestinians get a fraction of that money, close to $450,000? Is their a reason.? Why does when one child or a teacher get insured in Isreal, the whole media inside USA covers the story and when over 200,000 innocent Palestinians have died, nobody really cares? And does the world wants peace in the Middle East? Does the world really have some interest in not having peace in Isreal Vs. Palestine... especially the Arab World?
Please ask him: What would you say were Israel to vow never to recognise Palestine? Thanks.
George Gauci, Gozo, Malta.
Dear Mr. Abbas,

Why are you wasting your time talking to the Americans? They never helped the Palestinian cause and they never will.
The Palestinian people must take matters into their own hands.
President Anwar Sadat made peace with Israel, but was subsequently assassinated for his role in doing so. Yassar Arafat was offered generous peace terms by Prime Minister Barak of Israel, but refused them reportedly explaining that if he not he would soon “…be drinking tea with Sadat.” With this in mind I have 2 questions for you:

1. Are you prepared to risk you life to make peace with Israel?

2. If you are, what will you do to ensure that do not suffer his fate?
Dear Mr. Abbas

You know as we all know that the major points of conflict between Palestinians and Israelis won’t be solved at least in the near future, as example Jerusalem issue, my question to you as a leader why keeping your people suffering and starving then? Hamas won’t give up their demands, same as the Israeli government won’t give up their security. Your peoples in between, what you did you do for them?

M.A. Abbas
Why do you expect Israel to continue to allow Palestinians to live within the borders of Israel when you do not wish to allow Jews to live within the borders of Palestine? Clearly, I’m not talking about people like Daniel Beranbaum, whom we all know will never live in Palestine, but rather ordinary people that have legitimately bought land and houses on property that may be a part of a future Palestinian state? If Palestinians can live, work and vote in Israel should Israelis not be permitted to love, work and vote in Palestine?

David Gantshar
Montebello, NY 10901
1) In all previous discussions, everyone seems to be asking if Hamas will accept the retreat to the borders of 1967, but did anyone have the courage to ask if Israel is willing to? Is there anything written to clarify this?

2) What is the future vision of the PLO for the Palestinian refugees in the diaspora, do you have any idea about their status in the upcoming future?

3) What is the difference between the US officials opinion and that of the european union?
is Peace possible without all of the occupied Palestinian land including Jerusalem in the hands of Palestinians?

#2 is it possible to have peace without the return of the refugees to their homes and dismantling Jewish Illegal Settlements?
Mr. Abbas

Is reconciliation with Hamas a priority for you? It is obviously a key to a final peace solution, and back in '48/'49 the Israelis did the equivalent when they incorporated Etzel and Lehi (or Irgun and stern group) into the IDF.
Can a deal be reached in which Hamas is incorporated into the PA's forces and political system? Do you see this as necessary or helpful?
If Israel offered a true democracy with equal rights for Palestinians and Israelis, ensuring as just a society as possible, would Abbas be willing to forgo the goal of a Palestinian state?
Mr. Abbas, who do you think must be the first to start forgiving?
As a muslim man, from the PLO - a terrorist organization in itself, assume that he wants peace, yet will resort to violence to perpetuate the loss of territory. How can anyone, from the radical muslim background esponse any truth, when death and destruction is what he has created and has taken part in?
The international community has taken important actions towards the resolution of the israeli-palestinian conflict. More recently, the Conference in Annapolis and the Donor's Conference in Paris strongly expressed the world's concern and willingness to resolve. How else can foreign leaders help?
Here is the question:

What do you say to those who say that Hamas is the democratically elected representative of the Palestinian people and that you are just a figure head propped up by Israel to help continue their occupation?
Why do Mr. Abbas's feel the U.S.(Isreal Ally) can broker peace? Why not use a more non-bias mediator like the UN? How can you expect a peace deal when the U.S. clearly favors Isreal?(history has shown this time and time again) Why keep beating a dead horse? Isreal have over 100 resolution violations with UN, and nothing is being done to address this...Thank you.....
President Bush repeatedly states that a Palestinian state is at the top of his agenda, but in eight years he has done nothing to make it a reality.

If the US accepts Israel's 40 year occupation and settlements which essentially make Palestinians "citizens" in a vast prison camp-reservation, how can you take anything he says seriously?

Why not insist he accept a real solution, like the Geneva Accords proposed by Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey instead of attending endless meetings filled with nothing but lukewarm air?
Mr. Abbas and Ms. Rice perhaps the two most intellectually and politically incompetent individuals in their respective postions in recent history, are simply meeting for a public relations offensive in a futile endeavor to overcome the factual inaccuracies of Ms. Rice's recent representations of her departments directions and warnings to President Carter implicitly advising him not to meet with Hamas or the Syrian leadership. Ms. Rice's representations were very politely repudiated by President Carter's staff with factual evidence. And, once again, the Bush doctrine of no genuine diplomatic effort or policy rather a complete reliance on the ideal of military force, economic civillian sanction, and fictious Presidential and administrative moral superiority has failed and President Carter has produced more progress in a few days of open as well as honest dialogue with (albeit anti-semitic anti-zionist and racist) Hamas leaders than the US administration has any time in its existence. And, note in recent polls, 2/3 of Israeli citizens, tired of being the fodder for terrorists, are inclined to open dialogue with Hamas. The idea that one cannot speak with a bigot, racist, or zeonophobe to negotiate peace and democracy is logically unsound, it worked in South Africa, and with God's help it will work in the MidEast, China, and North Korea. We should not rely on the "freedom fry" nation or administration to any longer be the standard bearer for "democracy and freedom" in the world, when the US actually engenders the principles they espouse, such as the life of President James Carter, then they deserve legitimacy on the world stage, otherwise, they should be relegated to the same value as any commentary from President Robert Mugabee.
You are only part of the truly elected representation of the Palestinian people, and Hamas is the other part. How much of Palestinian international rights as enshrined in U.N. 242 and 194 and Geneva Conventions are you willing to negotiate fritter away before you fully understand that Israel and the United States have no interest whatsoever in restoring full soverignty to Palestinians based on the 1948 armistice lines?

Carl Zaisser
An American living in Vienna
The semantics of UN resolutions, historical claims, geographical borders, religious doctrine, and other ideally subjective analysis will be utilized by extremists and political opportunists on the many sides of the middle east debate long after this generation is no longer living. However, in the objective assesment of the lives of the ordinary citizen be they Arab, Israeli, or American, it is more apparent than ever that there is a profound disconnect between the economic, social, healthcare, and other concerns of the average individual and that of those who have established a historically entrenched entitlement to political, military, and media power in all the aforementioned nations and cultures.

Only now, in America, with the Bush doctrine actually being recognized as not only crippling the economy for generations but perhaps fatally ending the US empires dominance militarily, diplomaticaly, and economically on the global stage. And most concerning to US citizenry is the growing realization that as the myth of the all volunteer army begins to disappear the fiction of the draft is becoming less a fantasy and more of a growing realistic option with the needs and commitments of a nation that has beligerrantly over extended itself and alienated most of the world.

In regards to the ongoing conflict between the Palestinian people and the State of Israel, I am confident that if offered the opportunity to raise their famillies in peace, prosperity, and harmony, most, save only the truly extremist on either side would embrace any option that would allow such a process. And, frankly, I believe both peoples are tired of burying their own.

In regards to the hypocrisy of the Arab nations, not only are the elites morally and ethically incapable of reconcilling the fact of the use of borderline slave labor from third world MUSLIM nations in countries from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to Dubai. But, if the Shah of Iran and Colonel Ghadafi can send most of their citizenry abroad to obtain university educations and then return to build the nation and economy, why is it that the richest and most vocal "Muslim" nations spend most of their money building personal wealth in royal or political famillies and not on their nation or citizenry? And, if these nations had spent even 10% of what they spent in the last 40 years arming groups like Hamas to try and deystroy Israel to educate, house, and employ Palestinians, do you really believe that this situation would be at this stage right now?

The Israeli's are not blameless either, there are those in government and in certain sectors that are just as fundamentally extremist, violent, and bigoted as Hamas. But, the citizenry of Israel, in large measure must live in a constant state of readiness for attack from all sides and at all times, not only is this a psychologically unhealthy environment for adults but the effects being born, raised, and living in such a reality can explain the almost spiritual animus that exists in this generation of both Israeli and Palestinian youth.

It is time for people like President Carter and President Mandela to deal with this situation, and most importantly, the UN and the European Union should tell the US, that they should focus their next two generations on rebuilding Iraq a nation that they deystroyed based on knowingly false evidence which has led to the whole scale slaughter and maiming of millions of civillians, and once they have cleaned up that mess, then they can, if they wish join the rest of humanity to deal with the issues that are resident in the most complicated conflict in our lifetimes. We do not need the "freedom fry" nation, stomping around the world, any more than we need Homer Simpson advising the European Union on monetary policy.

With God's help alone, the good people of the mideast, Israeli and Palestinian will be able to live and work in peace - some time in the future.
Mr. President Abbas,
You say that you are the leader of “ALL” the Palestinian people, how can you justify allowing the Israelis to turn Gaza into “Huge JAIL” and imposed a siege that most UN & world condemn?
Mr. Abu Mazen what he thought when he proposed to award medals to selfconfessed murderers (although he withdrew them in the last moment)
Ask him about parallels between the democratic election of Hitler and the democratic election of Hamas

Ask him why so many of his policemen are involved in terror against israel
Ask him why since Fatah rules 95% of the West Bank, the Christian population of Bethlehem gets smaller and smaller

And ask him to answer truthfully (fat chance)
Let me try to briefly summarize the sadly satiric content of the majority of postings to this blog to date:

Israeli extremists and their supporters: "I hate you, Palestinians, because you are ALL terrorists, and have killed many of my people in contravention to human rights and your own religion and public statements to the contrary, tell the truth, you liars, and I cannot talk to any of you, I will not negotiate, I would rather just keep burying my own people, that is my logic, so there!"

Palestinians extremist and their supporters:"I hate you, Israelis, because you are ALL terrorists, and have killed many of my people in contravention to human rights and your own religion and public statements to the contrary, tell the truth, you liars, and I cannot talk to any of you, I will not negotiate, I would rather just keep burying my own people, that is my logic, so there!"

President Bush and his Administration: "Dick and Condi, is it November 2008 yet? We are almost out of here, I cannot wait to get to my ranch in Crawford and not have to worry about this mess any more! Are you guys still going to the Haliburton thank-you party for us in January 2009?"

John Stewart - Daily Show - eye roll!
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