From the Shadows to Center Stage

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has cracked down on militants, reached a truce with Israel and impressed the U.S. with his grit. Is this the man who can bring peace to the Middle East?

The camera bulbs had barely stopped flashing, but Mahmoud Abbas was already on the spot. After exchanging a photo-op handshake with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh last week, Abbas went into his first meeting with Sharon since Abbas' election as President of the Palestinian Authority. Sitting across a long oblong table in an airy conference room, Sharon reiterated to Abbas his demand that the Palestinians take immediate steps to disarm the militants of Hamas before Israel agrees to resume peace talks. "Wait, wait, give me a break," Abbas said, according to Israeli officials...

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