News World

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' new $6 million residence vacant over backlash fears

Mohammed Daraghmeh, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

This photo taken Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, shows a newly built mansion for the Palestinian Authority, on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Ramallah. Palestinian officials say the $6 million West Bank mansion won't serve as President Mahmoud Abbas' official residence and guesthouse, as originally planned. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

This photo taken Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, shows a newly built mansion for the Palestinian Authority, on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Ramallah. Palestinian officials say the $6 million West Bank mansion won't serve as President Mahmoud Abbas' official residence and guesthouse, as originally planned. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territory — Palestinian officials say a newly built $6 million West Bank mansion meant to be President Mahmoud Abbas’ official residence and guesthouse won’t be serving its original purpose.

One official says Abbas, 82, decided to stay in his home, fearing public backlash if he moved into the 4,700-square-meter (50,600-square-foot) residence at a time of economic hardship among Palestinians. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss Abbas’ deliberations with reporters.

Visiting foreign dignitaries typically don’t stay overnight in Ramallah, the seat of Abbas’ self-rule government.

Palestinian Culture Minister Ehab Bseiso said Monday that a national library would be built on the grounds of the mansion near Ramallah. He says some rooms of the mansion might in the future be used by the library.