Ousted Fatah official Muhammad Dahlan on Wednesday accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of seeking to prevent him from contesting the next presidential and parliamentary elections.
Dahlan made the accusation one day after a PA court in Ramallah sentenced him in absentia to two years in jail for “insulting state institutions” and “defaming” Abbas and other Palestinian officials.
The court verdict was issued last month but was published only on Tuesday.
At the request of Abbas, Dahlan was expelled from Fatah in 2011.
Relations between the two erstwhile allies deteriorated in recent years, prompting Abbas to take a series of measures against the former Fatah security commander, who is also an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
Dahlan has since become one of Abbas’s harshest critics, denouncing the PA president as a “dictator and corrupt leader.”
Abbas, for his part, has accused Dahlan of financial corruption and complicity in the murder of six Palestinians.
He has also hinted that Dahlan may have been responsible for the poisoning of Yasser Arafat.
Dahlan said that the court ruling did not come as a surprise to him. He accused Abbas of exploiting the PA ’s judicial system to serve his own goals.
Dahlan, who enjoys the backing of some Gulf countries and Egypt, said that Abbas’s actions prove that he is not fit to head the PA and the PLO .
According to Dahlan, who has been living in self-exile in the United Arab Emirates for the past three years, the court ruling is politically motivated and legally and morally flawed.
He added that the timing of the court ruling – on the eve of Fatah’s general conference – was designed to scuttle his effort to run in the presidential and parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories.
The PA law bans any Palestinian convicted of criminal or moral offenses from running in the elections.