President of the State of Palestine

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The President of the State of Palestine is the head of the State of Palestine. He is also the President of the Palestinian National Authority. Both functions were held by Yasser Arafat from 1988 and continued by his successor Mahmoud Abbas; in May 2005, the PLO Central Council asked Abbas to carry out the duties of the President of the State of Palestine.[1] In November 2008, the PCC approved the continuation of Abbas' function as President of the State of Palestine.[2]


On 15 November 1988, the Palestine Liberation Organization proclaimed the State of Palestine (SoP). Yasser Arafat, as Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization assumed the title of "President of Palestine". The United Nations recognized the PLO as the "representative of the Palestinian people", the PLO established a parliament and a government in exile, both representing the Palestinian people worldwide.

The Oslo Accords established parallel the Palestinian National Authority (PA) and a parliament, both representing the Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories. From 1994, Yasser Arafat assumed the title of President of the Palestinian National Authority, which was consolidated by the 1996 Presidential elections. Since then, both functions (President of SoP and PA) were simultaneously executed by a single person.

In 2012, the United Nations recognized the "State of Palestine" as non-member observer state, but this did not abolish the function of President of the Palestinian Authority, as this originated from the Oslo Accords.


Unlike the function of President of the PA, the President of the State of Palestine is not validated by democratic elections, but rather by the PLO; in 1989, the PLO Central Council elected Yasser Arafat the first President.[3] At the time, the organization who elected him was led by Yasser Arafat himself, after Arafat's death in November 2004, the function was vacant. In May 2005 (4 months after Abbas was elected President of the PA), the PLO asked Mahmud Abbas to be acting President of State of Palestine,[1] on 23 November 2008, the PLO Central Council formalized the function by electing Abbas President of the State of Palestine.[2] The PLO organs who appointed Mahmud Abbas in 2005 and 2008 were and still are led by Mahmud Abbas himself.


Yasser Arafat[edit]

On 15 November 1988, Yasser Arafat became the symbolic President of the State of Palestine declared by the Palestine Liberation Organization, formalized on 2 April 1989.[3] In 1994, he also became the President of the Palestinian National Authority upon the PA's formal inauguration on 5 July.[4] He exercised limited self-government over part of the occupied Palestinian territories, following the Oslo I Accord and the subsequent Gaza–Jericho Agreement, from 1993, an independent State of Palestine was envisioned on the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and Gaza, but Arafat never saw his dream realized.

Arafat remained President until his death on 11 November 2004.

Mahmoud Abbas[edit]

In May 2005, the PLO Central Council asked Abbas to carry out the duties of the President of the State of Palestine;[1] in November 2008, the PCC appointed Abbas as President of the State of Palestine.[2]

List of Presidents (1994–present)[edit]

No. Portrait Name
Term of office Party
1 ArafatEconomicForum.jpg Yasser Arafat
2 April 1994[3][5] 11 November 2004
(died in office)
(Palestine Liberation Organization)
Vacant (11 November 2004 – 8 May 2005)[6]
2 Mahmoud Abbas.jpg Mahmoud Abbas
(b. 1935)
8 May 2005[1]
Acting from 8 May 2005 to 23 November 2008[7]
Incumbent Fatah
(Palestine Liberation Organization)
8 January 2013
President of UN-observer Palestine state[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d PLO asks Mahmud Abbas to be acting president of "state of Palestine", Al Jazeera, 8 May 2005
  2. ^ a b c PLO body elects Abbas ′president of Palestine′, AFP, 23 November 2008
  3. ^ a b c Tom Lansford,Political Handbook of the World 2014, p. 1628. CQ Press, March 2014.
    "On April 2, 1989, the PLO's Central Council unanimously elected Arafat president of the self-proclaimed Palestinian state and designated Faruk Qaddumi as foreign minister ..."
  4. ^ Europa World Year Book 2004, p. 2235. Taylor & Francis, 2004 (on Google Books).
    "On 26–28 May [1994] the PA held its inaugural meeting in Tunis, ... Arafat made a symbolic return to Gaza City on 1 July—his first visit for 25 years—and the PA was formally inaugurated in Jericho on 5 July."
  5. ^ Aburish, Said K. (1998). From Defender to Dictator. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 201–228. ISBN 1-58234-049-8. 
  6. ^ PNA interim chairman calls for elections preparations. Xinhua News Agency, 13 November 2004
  7. ^ "PLO body elects Abbas 'president of Palestine'". Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-08. , AFP (23 November 2008): "I announce that the PLO Central Council has elected Mahmud Abbas president of the State of Palestine. He takes on this role from this day, November 23, 2008," the body's chairman Salem al-Zaanun told reporters.
  8. ^ Palestinian Authority rebrands itself 'State of Palestine' after U.N. vote

External links[edit]