Dahlan slams Palestinian president over bad governance

Speaking to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya channel, Dahlan did not announce his candidacy to replace Abbas but voiced his commitment towards the “governing of the Palestinian people.”
Thursday 18/03/2021
A 2011 file photo shows Mohammed Dahlan speaks during an interview at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AFP)
A 2011 file photo shows Mohammed Dahlan speaks during an interview at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AFP)

GAZA CITY--Mohammed Dahlan, a former top Palestinian official exiled in the United Arab Emirates, branded his rival president Mahmud Abbas a failed leader in an interview Wednesday ahead of Palestinian elections.

Speaking to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya channel, Dahlan did not announce his candidacy to replace Abbas but voiced his commitment towards the “governing of the Palestinian people.”

“Under Abbas’s reign, divisions grew stronger and living conditions became deplorable,” Dahlan told the channel in an interview conducted in Abu Dhabi.

Abbas, who took power following the death of iconic Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, “failed to do what he promised,” Dahlan said.

“All (Abbas) cares about is staying in power, tormenting his opponents and silencing those with opposing views,” Dahlan said.

He cited the decision by Fatah, Abbas’s movement that controls the Palestinian Authority, to expel Arafat’s nephew Nasser al-Qudwa, after he announced plans to challenge Abbas in the upcoming vote.

The current situation of Qudwa closely resembles that of Dahlan, who was expelled from Fatah, in violation of the movement’s regulations and without launching a fair investigation.

Last week, Dahlan considered that the decision to expel Qudwa “contradicts all the Fatah’s rules, regulations and established customs.”

“It’s a new step in scattering Fatah’s capabilities and power, which it has not witnessed in its long history, this degree of tyranny, exclusivity and deviation from its traditions of diversity,” said Dahlan.

“It is a decision that confirms the impossibility of accepting Mahmoud Abbas’s approach, which has become a real threat to the interests of our people, its unity, its cause, and an imminent danger to Fatah.”

He added on his official Facebook page that the time has come for the movement’s leaders, cadres and bases to rise up to face this “organised destruction by a spiteful and incompetent person who is a source of weakness for the movement and a cause of decline for its status and capabilities.”

In a statement, Dahlan’s Democratic Reform Current also criticised the decision to expel Qudwa “issued by Mahmoud Abbas, with silence and the complicity of his corrupt chorus,” vowing to “recapture Fatah from its subjugators, restore the principles on which the movement was created and reinstate the objectives that have been pursued for decades.”

The Palestinians have called legislative elections for May 22 and a presidential vote on July 31, their first elections in 15 years.

Dahlan, who was born in the densely populated Khan Yunis refugee camp in the Gaza Strip and emerged as one of the leaders of the Palestinian uprising (Intifada) in 1987, clashed during his political rise within the ranks of the Palestinian Authority’s ladder with Abbas several times, especially after Yasser Arafat’s death in 2004.

Abbas saw him as an ambitious competitor, and held Dahlan responsible for the failure to quell the revolt in which Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Four years later, he was kicked off Fatah’s central committee on charges of “subversion.”

He went into exile in Abu Dhabi where he became an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

In recent months, Dahlan has sought to raise his profile in the occupied Palestinian territories.

He has personally overseen the delivery of the Russian-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine into Israeli-blockaded Gaza, describing them as a gift from UAE.

He said his goal is to respond to the desires of the Palestinian people for change.

“Nobody will stop me, even if it is someone important,” he told Al-Arabiya.

“I don’t mind being controversial. What matters to me is work, success and the governing of the Palestinian people.”

The 85-year-old Abbas has not indicated whether he intends to run again.

Fatah, which controls the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and Hamas are long-term rivals but have reached an agreement to hold elections in both Palestinian territories.