Mahmoud Abbas has been elected by wide margin to become president of the Palestinian National Authority. Abbas won about 63 percent of the vote, however the election was tainted by unexpectedly low turnout.

Abbas is viewed by outsiders as a pragmatic moderate—in stark contrast to longtime President Yasser Arafat, who simultaneously held leadership positions in the legitimate Palestinian government and various terrorist groups. Many hope that under Abbas’s leadership, the Arab/Israeli conflict may come closer to an end.

Arafat died of an unknown illness in November 2004.