According to media reports, the Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is pushing for internal leadership elections within his own faction and institutions before the end of 2016, in order to sideline a political rival.
81-year-old Abbas is keen for elections for the leadership of both Fatah and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) to take place quickly, in order to nullify calls for the return of Mohammed Dahlan to a senior leadership position.
Reports suggest that Abbas wants the Fatah convention to convene on 29 November and a vote for the PLO Executive Committee to take place a month later. The Fatah convention last met in 2008, with Abbas postponing a scheduled gathering in 2013.
AP suggests that Abbas has decided to act after the so-called “Arab Quartet” of Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates recently presented him with a “road map” towards reviving peace talks with Israel, which included the return of Dahlan as an initial step.
During the last several years, many of Dahlan’s supporters have been removed from senior positions within Fatah. AP quotes a Palestinian political analyst, who says that if the leadership elections are held soon, “there will be no way for Dahlan to come back to the leadership”.
A prominent Palestinian leader and outspoken critic of Abbas, Dahlan is considered by some to be a serious candidate to succeed the PA President. Two weeks ago, Dahlan supporters in Gaza held an anti-Abbas rally.
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.