Fathom Assistant Editor Samuel Nurding sat down with Grant Rumley and Amir Tibon to discuss their new book The Last Palestinian: The Rise and Reign of Mahmoud Abbas (Prometheus Books, 2017). Rumley is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Tibon is the Washington D.C. correspondent for Haaretz. They discuss their motivations in writing the book, critically review the events that have shaped Abbas’s political thinking, and assess the legacy Abbas is likely to leave behind for the Palestinian people.
Samuel Nurding: Why did you decide to write a study of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas?
Grant Rumley: We decided to write the book after the 2014 peace talks, driven by the US Secretary of State John Kerry, fell apart. It was clear that the White House was not going to reengage at the level they had in 2013-4, so there was a window for some deeper analysis. Amir and I were struck by the fact that there were no biographies of Abbas, who is as big a part of the equation as anyone, and we both believe that not enough attention is paid to Palestinian politics. We hope the book sheds new light and will improve the discourse about the peace process.
Amir Tibon: After the 2013-4 peace talks fell apart we both doubted that we’d see that level of seriousness again. Hopefully we will be proved wrong. Our thinking was that it was a good time to put out a definitive story about a person who has been so central to the peace process for the last several decades.
The Trump administration has been making some noises and sending some dignitaries. It doesn’t look serious to me, at the moment, but if it becomes serious then the book becomes very relevant to all the players. If the Trump administration wants to make progress on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, it needs to become more knowledgeable about Abbas.
Read the full interview in Fathom.