Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas decided on Saturday to expel five top officials from Fatah.
The five – Sufyan Abu Zaida, Majed Abu Shamalah, Nasser Juma’a, Abdel Hamid al-Masri and Rashid Abu Shbak – are all from the Gaza Strip.
Abbas gave no reason for his rare decision to expel the senior officials from Fatah.
However, a source in Ramallah said that the five officials were closely associated with Muhammad Dahlan, a former Fatah operative who was also expelled from the faction three years ago.
Dahlan, a former PA security commander in the Gaza Strip, was expelled from Fatah after he fell out with Abbas and his two sons.
Dahlan, who has since been living in exile in the United Arab Emirates, has since been waging a fierce campaign against Abbas and his sons, accusing them of corruption and abuse of power.
Abbas accused Dahlan of being responsible for the murder of six Palestinians.
He has also hinted that Dahlan may have been involved in the “poisoning” of Yasser Arafat in 2004.
Two weeks ago, a Palestinian court in Ramallah sentenced Dahlan in absentia to two years in prison for “insulting state institutions” and defaming senior Palestinian officials.
The decision to expel the five men from Fatah is seen as a sign of deepening divisions inside the faction, which is headed by Abbas.
The five men had all spoken out against Abbas in recent weeks.