Dahlan says he won’t run against Abbas, backs Barghouti

A senior Palestinian leader viewed as a rival to the Palestinian Authority (PA) President said yesterday that he would not launch a challenge for the post but instead backed the candidacy of Marwan Barghouti.

Mohammed Dahlan, speaking to the Palestinian Ma’an news agency from Cairo,  said: “Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] is working to drive out all the voices that aren’t obedient to him.”

Dahlan further accused Abbas of an “Erdoganist policy,” which he said “isn’t suited to a movement like Fatah”. The Fatah faction, headed by Abbas, of which Dahlan is a prominent member, is the dominant force within the PA.

In the interview, Dahlan reportedly rejected the idea that he is a potential successor to Abbas. He suggested that Marwan Barghouti, who is currently serving five life sentences for murder in an Israeli prison, should reject a mooted proposal to become Abbas’s deputy and instead aim for the top job. He said that Barghouti will “aspire to receive legitimacy from all parts of the Fatah movement”.

Dahlan headed the Palestinian security forces in Gaza until Hamas forcibly seized power there in 2007. He had also been part of the Palestinian negotiating team at the Camp David talks in 2000. Accused of corruption and other misdemeanours, Dahlan was expelled by Abbas from the Fatah faction and effectively exiled to Dubai in 2011.

Dahlan has continued to criticise Abbas from afar and in recent weeks, the enmity between the two has spilled over into violence between Dahlan supporters and PA security forces in West Bank refugee camps, including Balata and Jenin. In particular, Dahlan’s followers have been incensed by Abbas’s recent expulsion of known Dahlan supporter Jihad Tamliya from Fatah.

In the Ma’an interview, Dahlan warned that “we’re waiting and following developments” and “we’ll consider how to respond” if, as reported, Abbas convenes the Fatah convention next month as an opportunity to further sideline those associated with Dahlan.

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