Fatah's Mohammed Dahlan indicates he will run in PA elections

It’s not clear at this stage whether the Palestinian factions have reached agreement to hold the proposed elections, and Abbas has yet to issue a “presidential decree” setting a date for the vote.

November 5, 2019 07:37
4 minute read.
Fatah's Mohammed Dahlan indicates he will run in PA elections

MOHAMMED DAHLAN, a former Fatah security chief, gestures in his office in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, last year.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Deposed Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan has hinted that he will run in the next Palestinian presidential election.

“If elections take place, I have the right to present my candidacy anywhere I wish,” he said in an interview with the Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) television network. “The question of whether I practice my right or not is another issue. My hope – and I will fight for it – is that we have a system based on partnership, and I will push for this to happen.”

Dahlan, a former Palestinian Authority security commander in the Gaza Strip, was elected in 2006 to the Palestinian Legislative Council as a representative of his hometown of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. Before that, he served as head of the PA’s Preventive Security Force in the Gaza Strip, a job he held until 2002.

In 2011, Dahlan was expelled from Fatah after falling out with PA President Mahmoud Abbas. The PA has accused Dahlan of enriching himself through financial corruption and “conspiring” to undermine Abbas.

Despite the accusations, the PA allowed Dahlan to leave the West Bank, where he had been living since the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007. Since 2011, he has been living in exile in the United Arab Emirates, where he heads a group called Democratic Reform Current.

In September, Abbas announced in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly his intention to hold long overdue “general elections” in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Since then, Palestinian Central Elections Commission has been consulting with various Palestinian groups, including Hamas, about ways of ensuring that the elections take place.

It’s not clear at this stage whether the Palestinian factions have reached agreement to hold the proposed elections, and Abbas has yet to issue a “presidential decree” setting a date for the vote.

A senior PA official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post that it’s “highly unlikely” that Dahlan, an outspoken critic of Abbas, would be permitted to participate in the elections, when and if they take place.

“This man is wanted for various crimes he committed against the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people,” the official said, referring to Dahlan. “If he arrives in the West Bank, he will be arrested and put on trial. He belongs in prison, and not among the Palestinian leadership.”

A senior Fatah official said that Dahlan is persona non grata and won’t be allowed to play any role in Palestinian politics.

Dahlan, in the interview with MBC, said that despite his expulsion from Fatah, he still considers himself part of the faction.

“No one has a monopoly over Fatah,” he said. “Not even the head of the faction [Abbas].”

He said he and his followers have been working toward uniting Fatah and paving the way for young leaders to rise to power.

“The Fatah cadres have the right to vote for their own candidates,” he emphasized. “Thieves and freedom fighters should not be treated equally, and candidates should not be parachuted into the election campaign.”

Dahlan said that while he had no “personal ambitions,” he nevertheless wants to see Fatah “regain its dignity.” He further claimed that his group has thousands of followers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. “No one is entitled to deny me the right to present my candidacy,” he said.

Palestinian sources told the Post that Dahlan has also succeeded in recruiting several Fatah activists from east Jerusalem to his group – a move that has angered Abbas and several Fatah and PA officials. In recent years, PA security forces have arrested several Dahlan loyalists and expelled others from the faction on the pretext that they are working against the interests of the Palestinians.

In the interview, Dahlan also lashed out at Turkey, whose foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, recently branded him a “terrorist” and an “agent of Israel.”

Dahlan said that he was surprised by the Turkish minister’s charges. “I never had friends in Turkey,” Dahlan said. “But now I have enemies there because of [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and his gang.”

He pointed out that the Turkish authorities had previously accused him of involvement in the 2016 botched coup against Erdogan and state institutions. “I consider these fabricated charges an insult to the Turkish people and the Turkish army,” Dahlan said. “Erdogan has a dream and a mental illness; he believes that he will be able to restore the Ottoman Empire’s occupation of the Arab world.”

Dahlan also criticized Qatar for its continued support for the Muslim Brotherhood and efforts to undermine stability in some Arab states, including Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan, as well as the Palestinian territories.

“Qatar is a tiny and wealthy country that is seeking to win the hearts and minds of the Arabs,” he said. “At one point, Qatar had huge influence over the Arabs, but this has ended. As a Palestinian, I would like to see Qatar working with the Arab countries, and not with Turkey and Iran.”

Dahlan blamed the PA and Hamas for the state of affairs in the West Bank and Gaza.

“In the West Bank, Palestinians see that the Palestinian Authority’s main issue now is calf trade with Israel,” he said, referring to the PA government’s recent decision to ban the import of calves from Israel.

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