GAZA, Dec. 9 (Xinhuanet) -- Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), is facing three main challenges -- mending fences with Arab states, rivaling for Palestinian presidency, and holding dialogue with militants to hammer out a ceasefire.
Abbas, who is on a regional tour, is trying to improve relations with Arab brothers and garner support for the stalled Middle East peace process.
Most Arab countries support the Palestinians, but countries such as Syria and Lebanon fell out with former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat who signed the Oslo Accords with Israel in 1993.
Damascus charged that the agreements weakened negotiators' hands with Israel in the rest of the Arab world.
The whirling visit paid by Abbas has been fruitful so far, overcoming the icy relations with Syria and Lebanon over the past two decades.
Syrian Prime Minister Mohammed Naji Otri on Tuesday underscored his country's support to the creation of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
Lebanon, for its part, promised to help improve the living conditions of some 400,000 Palestinian refugees on its soil.
Meanwhile, Abbas, as Fatah's only official candidate, must take care of his election campaign in the West Bank and Gaza in the eve of the Jan. 9 presidential race.
The 69-year-old moderate leader is favored by both Washington and Israel as a possible peacemaker, but is facing strong contest from Fatah grassroots leader Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life terms in an Israeli jail.
Barghouti, 45, has won wide support among the younger Palestinian generation as a spiritual leader of the four-year-long Intifada (Uprising) against Israel.
Barghouti has declared to run as an independent, but well-informed Palestinian sources said Wednesday he would quit the race if his political demands were met by Abbas.
A recent poll, conducted by the Bir Zeit University in the West Bank city of Ramallah, found Barghouti won 46 percent support, leading Abbas by 2 percent.
Abbas' loyalists within Fatah thought he should spend more time in the campaign, instead of traveling abroad in the lead-up to the election.
The third main challenge comes from the divergence of different Palestinian national factions.
Following the death of Yasser in Nov. 11, Abbas held several rounds of dialogue with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in an effort to persuade them to accept a ceasefire with Israel, which will help build a favorable environment for a smooth election.
The proposal, however, was rejected.
Hamas spokesman in Gaza Musheer al-Masri said ceasefire "could never happen at the expense of the blood of the Palestinian people."
He reiterated that Hamas would never drop its arms as long as Israel continues its aggressions.
The Islamic movement also called on the Palestinian National Authority to hold presidential and legislative elections at the same time.
On the ground, militants continued firing homemade rockets at Israeli targets while Israel kept its assassinations and killings against Palestinians.
Khaleel Shameya, a political observer in Gaza, believes that Abbas has to pay a high price is he is serious about the truce. Enditem (by Saud Abu Ramadan)