Dubai: Mohammad Abu Tair, a former adviser to the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, has declared his bid for the 2010 Palestinian presidential elections.
Abu Tair, one of the few seniors involved in drafting the Oslo agreement between Israel and the PLO in the 1990s, told Gulf News he believes he has the qualities and the capabilities to head the Palestinian National Authority and pave the way for the formation of an independent Palestinian state.
Abu Tair, who is also a professional pilot, believes that the Egyptian initiative to end the Hamas-Fatah conflict has reached a dead-end after the Hamas accused Egypt of sabotaging the reconciliation efforts.
In a telephone interview from the UK, Abu Tair said neither Hamas nor Fatah will be able to form a new government in Palestine after a three-year division between the two groups. He believes that the unity of Palestinians at this stage cannot be achieved through mediation by Egypt or any other party except from within and he proposes to be a broker.
Abu Tair said he has formulated a five-point plan to conduct the upcoming municipal, legislative and presidential elections in the West Bank and Gaza and to break the deadlock of expanding the PLO to contain Hamas and other movements based in Damascus to become part of the national Palestinian movement.
He told Gulf News that he will visit Damascus next week to discuss his plan with the exiled leaders of Hamas and other Palestinian organisations. Abu Tair, who brokered the Oslo agreement, feels confident Hamas will support his plan as he has based it on national principals agreed upon by all Palestinian groups including the Hamas.
Abu Tair said options for Palestinian unity are diminishing by the day and unless serious measures are taken to conduct elections as agreed by different Palestinian parties no one will survive. He said that he mustered regional and international support for his presidential programme, which is based on promoting peace with Israel.
Once elected he would ensure an immediate and unconditional end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, adding that he would not sacrifice the right of self determination for the Palestinian people and the right of refugees to return. "Improving the living conditions of Palestinians in Gaza and in the West Bank is among my top priorities with special emphasis on Israel to conform to the European human rights legislation," he said.
He said his main objective as president would be the formation of a viable Palestinian state in which children enjoy increased education levels with special attention to reduction of unemployment in the country.
Based on his experience with Israeli negotiators in Oslo, Abu Tair said he would encourage Israel to implement the agreements signed in the two Oslo rounds which stressed on halting expansions in the occupied territories.
He said his chances of winning the presidential election are high as Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank look to improve their living conditions.
"With their focus on winning the political battle, both Hamas and Fatah have lost interest in the day-to-day issues that concern the lives of Palestinian people. This results in poverty and pressure on people which is worse than that prevailing under Israeli occupation," he added.
- Born in Umtuber village of occupied Jerusalem in 1966.
- Moved to California, US, with his parents when he was five.
- Returned to school in Jordan in early '80s to improve his Arabic.
- Established relations with the Palestinian Liberation Organiation (PLO) of which he became a member in 1988.
- As a senior adviser to Arafat, he was responsible for the development and implementation of improved PLO relationships with Israel.
- In 1991 he moved to Germany where he met with Dr Haydar Abdechaffi and was a key player in the Oslo agreement between Israel and PLO in 1993.
- He negotiated a number of government proposals between Palestine and its neighbours to ensure continuous support for Palestinian citizens.
- He is an active member of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and a holder of a UN passport in addition to Germany and UK passports and a US Green Card.
- As a professional pilot, Abu Tair holds a licence to fly a number of aircrafts including B737-300 planes. He has over 7,492 flying hours as a result of 18 years of experience.
- He holds a Masters in Political Science from Germany.
- He has authored a number of books with proceeds given to charity.
- Currently, he is based in the UK where he has recently attained a Diploma in Business Management.