Abbas sits 298.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
For many Palestinians, Muhammad Dahlan was the point person blamed for the recent conflict between Hamas and Fatah. His departure from the territories, and what appears to be a strong message from Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas that Dahlan is persona non grata for the near future, is indicative of an effort by Fatah to remove perceived roadblocks to a compromise with Hamas.
Arab media have frequently accused Dahlan and his radical faction in Fatah of being militantly opposed to any compromise with Hamas. His removal appears to be an effort by the Arab governments, particularly Egypt and Saudi Arabia, as well as major players in Hamas and Fatah, to find a compromise or formula enabling the two sects to begin a new national dialogue that will put an end to the current crisis.
Any settlement between Hamas and Fatah is going to come as an initiative to reconcile the "Arab family." Additionally, Dahlan is viewed as an Israeli protÃ©gÃ© and dependent on the US. While the US was indeed supportive of Dahlan, I would not be surprised if the Americans reserved comment on his departure. It is likely that the request for him not to return came from independent PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad. Any review of the context behind Dahlan's exit should take into acccount Fayad's role, as well as that of the Arab governments.
Both within Fatah and beyond it, Dahlan has become the perceived figurehead of the corruption associated with the Oslo process and the rampant fraud that has defined the Palestinian Authority since its inception. Pressure has been increasing from within Fatah on Abbas to sacrifice Dahlan in order to carry on trying to calm the tension with Hamas.
There have been two identifiable stages of the current Palestinian crisis: first was complete disconnection and isolation between Hamas and Abbas, and Fatah and Fayad. In the second stage, the current stage, this dislocation in part continues, but it is characterized mainly by efforts at reconciliation between the adversaries. Dahlan and his followers were viewed as obstacles on the road to what seems like a necessary compromise and reconciliation.
Dr. Yoram Meital is chairman of the Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East studies at Ben-Gurion University (Molly Nixon contributed to this report.