The decision, which was expected, nonetheless gave an important vote of confidence to the embattled president. Abbas's inability to reconcile with Hamas or wrest concessions from Israel has hurt his popularity among many Palestinians.Entire homeland? That's all of Israel and the territories, including the West Bank and Gaza. Fatah can't do anything in Gaza because the even more homicidal terror group Hamas controls matters there and the two terror groups cannot agree on a power-sharing arrangement.
Abbas has repeatedly threatened to step down in frustration over the impasse with Israel, while simultaneously hinting that he could be persuaded to remain in office. Wednesday's vote by the PLO's Central Council gives Abbas more time to work out his problems.
The vote endorsed Abbas's earlier decision to call off presidential and parliamentary elections, which had been set for January. Abbas says it is impossible to hold the election due to Hamas' refusal to allow voting in its Gaza Strip stronghold.
The extension, which also applies to parliament members, ensures that Abbas's government continues to function until elections can be held in "the entire homeland," said Central Council member Saleh Rafat. It did not set a date for a new vote.
Under those circumstances, Israel has no one to discuss a peace process with when Hamas doesn't recognize Israel's right to exist, and certainly doesn't recognize Israel's right to any of the territories between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Fatah has at least paid lip service to negotiations, but they engage in more than a few preconditions of their own - using the bogus issue of settlement construction as a cudgel to force concessions from Israel, even though Israel has repeatedly shown itself capable of transferring homes to Palestinians (see Gaza's 2005 disengagement as proof).
Hamas calls Fatah a sell-out for even trying to discuss a peace deal that would ultimately create a two-state solution.
Abbas is playing games with all this, and the end result is that he gets to stay in power indefinitely, using a situation of the Palestinians' own making to retain power and do nothing to further the peace process, such as it is.