In July 2003, the Palestinian Authority Chairman, Yasser Arafat, described Mahmoud Abbas as a "traitor" who had "betrayed the interests of the Palestinian people."

Arafat loathed Abbas to the very end. This particular outburst was made during a meeting with the United Nations envoy, Terje Larsen. The meeting took place a few months after Arafat was coerced by the United States, Israel and other Western powers to appoint Abbas as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority.

Historically, Abbas has been the least popular among Fatah leaders — the likes of Abu Jihad, Abu Iyad and Arafat himself. These popular leaders were mostly assassinated, sidelined or died under mysterious circumstances. Arafat is widely believed to have been poisoned by Israel with the help of Palestinians, and Abbas has recently alleged that he knows who killed Arafat.