Are UAE-supplied vaccines intended to prop up Abbas rival?

Egypt and Jordan have reportedly pressured Abbas to end his dispute with Dahlan and form a unified Fatah list to prevent Hamas from wining the parliamentary election.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a virtual meeting with Palestinian factions over Israel and the United Arab Emirates' deal to normalise ties, in Ramallah in the West Bank September 3, 2020. (photo credit: ALAA BADARNEH/POOL VIA REUTERS)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a virtual meeting with Palestinian factions over Israel and the United Arab Emirates' deal to normalise ties, in Ramallah in the West Bank September 3, 2020.
(photo credit: ALAA BADARNEH/POOL VIA REUTERS)
The first shipment of vaccines against coronavirus is on its way to the Hamas-ruled  Gaza Strip,  exiled Fatah commander Mohammad Dahlan and his local supporters have confirmed.
The shipment, donated by the United Arab Emirates, includes 20,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, his supporters said Sunday.
Dahlan, a former security commander in the Gaza Strip, was expelled from Fatah 10 years ago after falling out with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
 He moved to the UAE after his expulsion, where he reportedly serves as a special adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
“We hope that the vaccines will be dedicated to the medical teams that are heroically fighting the epidemic,” Dahlan said.
“We promise to continue every possible effort to secure more vaccines and medical aid,” he added. “On this occasion, we extend our sincere gratitude to our brothers in the United Arab Emirates.”
Dahlan’s announcement of 20,000 doses came less than a week after the PA sent 2,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine to the Gaza Strip.
The UAE shipment to the Gaza Strip was part of the Gulf state’s effort to bolster Dahlan’s standing among Palestinians ahead of the Palestinian general elections, Palestinian sources said.
Dahlan has not announced whether he plans to run in the presidential election, set to take place on July 31. His supporters, however, in recent weeks said they intend to participate in the parliamentary election, slated for May 22.
PA officials said Dahlan would not be allowed to run for president because he was convicted by a Palestinian court in 2016 on charges of embezzling public funds. He has denied the charges.
“The UAE is making a big effort to promote Dahlan and his movement, the Democratic Reform Current,” one of the sources said. “Dahlan will now score points with the Palestinian public because he is overseeing the delivery of vaccines to the Gaza Strip.”
While the PA welcomes the UAE shipment to the Gaza Strip, Ramallah was worried that the vaccines would be used to impact the upcoming elections, a Palestinian official said.
“The Palestinian leadership has warned against attempts by some outsides parties to meddle in the internal affairs of the Palestinians ahead of the elections,” the official told The Jerusalem Post. “It’s no secret that the United Arab Emirates and some Arab countries want to see Dahlan return to the Palestinian political arena.”
Egypt and Jordan have reportedly pressured Abbas to end his dispute with Dahlan and form a unified Fatah list to prevent Hamas from wining the parliamentary election.
Last month, the heads of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service and Jordan’s General Intelligence Directorate made a surprise visit to Ramallah, where they met with Abbas and Majed Faraj, head of the PA General Intelligence Service. The visit came as Jordan’s King Abdullah II met in Abu Dhabi with bin Zayed.
Dahlan loyalists, meanwhile, are making a big effort to highlight their role in the delivery of the vaccines to the Gaza Strip.
Members of Dahlan’s Democratic Reform Current have invited journalists to cover the arrival of the vaccines through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.
One of the leaders of the group, Ghassan Jadallah, said the Democratic Reform Current was determined to do its utmost to help the Gaza Strip.
The PA does not care about the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, another member of the group claimed.
“President Abbas says that he cares about the Gaza Strip, but this is not true,” he said. “How come he hasn’t lifted the sanctions he imposed on the Gaza Strip more than three years ago?”
In the past few weeks, Dahlan has coordinated delivery of UAE medical aid to the Gaza Strip. The last shipment arrived there last month. The convoy carried signs that emphasized Dahlan’s role in providing the Gaza Strip with medical aid to cope with the coronavirus. The shipment included medical gear and an oxygen production plant, as well as ventilators and coronavirus test kits.
Last week, a group named Al-Quds International Institution warned that the UAE was behind a new list from east Jerusalem whose members plan to run for the parliament, the Palestinian Legislative Council.
The UAE-funded list, named Jerusalem First, was part of the Gulf state’s effort to promote normalization with Israel, the Lebanon-based group said.