Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen),
Palestinian politician, was named prime minister in March by President Yasir Arafat. Palestinian reformists lauded the appointment, while the militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad said Arafat was playing into the hands of Israel and the U.S. In June, Abbas and Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon agreed to begin implementing the road map to peace, but a series of suicide attacks on Israeli targets by Palestinian militants and the assassination of Hamas leaders by Israeli troops thwarted any real progress. Abbas resigned in September, saying Sharon and Arafat had undermined his government.