Marc Lynch's take:
[If Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority, is serious about not seeking re-election], then it isn't necessarily a disaster. It could shake up a failing process on autopilot, it could offer the chance to finally renew Palestinian leadership, and it could offer a way for the Gaza-West Bank, Fatah-Hamas standoff to be defused. Nothing has changed in the last week to make me change my mind on those basic points.
Most of the Palestinian and Arab commentary I've seen since his announcement falls into three basic trends: the first thinks he's bluffing, attempting to leverage his weakness into pressure on the U.S. and Israel; the second thinks it's irrelevant, because the elections will not actually be held in January; and the third is cheering his departure, and hoping that it will lead to a collective admission that the PA's strategy has failed. The three perspectives are obviously not mutually exclusive. When I asked leading Palestinian academic Salim Tamari yesterday about the impact it would have on the peace process, he just looked at me quizically and said "what peace process?"