Moscow visit could pave the way for Abbas-Dahlan reconciliation

A visit to Moscow last week by exiled Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan has reignited talks among Palestinians about a possible reconciliation between him and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

During the visit, Dahlan and two officials from his Democratic Reform Movement, a dissident Fatah group, met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his deputy, Michael Bogdanov. The two officials who accompanied Dahlan are Samir Mashharawi and Ja’far Hdeib.

Earlier this year, Dahlan led another delegation from his group to Moscow, where they met with Bogdanov. The delegation discussed preparations for the holding of the Palestinian parliamentary elections, which were supposed to take place on May 22.

Discussions also focused on the need to end the rivalry between Fatah and Hamas and Abbas and Dahlan.

In late April, Abbas suspended the elections on the pretext that Israel did not respond to his request to hold elections in East Jerusalem.

A Palestinian supporter of the former head of Fatah in Gaza, Mohammed Dahlan, holds a poster representing Dahlan during a protest against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza City on December 18, 2014 (credit: MOHAMMED SALEM / REUTERS)

Dahlan’s recent visit to Moscow came amid unconfirmed reports of tensions between him and the United Arab Emirates, where he has been living for the past decade.

The visit came as Fatah prepares to hold its eighth general assembly in March 2022. It also came on the eve of Abbas’s planned visit to Moscow to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The meeting is expected to take place on November 23, Palestinian officials said on Saturday.

Abbas hopes that Russia will back his plan to activate the Quartet, which is made up of the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union, as the main intermediary in future peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

A source close to Dahlan was quoted over the weekend as saying that Lavrov was mediating to end the dispute between the former Palestinian Authority security commander in the Gaza Strip and Abbas.

Russia previously made an effort to end the dispute between Abbas and Hamas, but to no avail.

The source said Dahlan came to Moscow at the invitation of Russian leaders to discuss the latest developments in the Palestinian arena, including a possible reconciliation with Abbas.

In 2011, Dahlan moved to the United Arab Emirates after Palestinian Authority security forces raided his home in the Ramallah suburb of Tira and arrested some of his associates. The raid came hours after a Fatah disciplinary court rejected Dahlan’s appeal against the Fatah Central Committee’s decision to expel him from the faction.

According to Arab media reports, Dahlan is serving as a special adviser to the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates, Mohammed bin Zayed.

In 2016, a Palestinian Authority court sentenced Dahlan in absentia to three years in prison on charges of embezzlement of public funds. Dahlan has denied the charges.

During the meeting with Lavrov, Dahlan claimed to be ready for internal reconciliation in Fatah.

But a senior Fatah official in Ramallah said on Saturday that Abbas has no intention of fixing relations with Dahlan. “Dahlan belongs to the past,” the official said. “He has been convicted by a Palestinian court and if he reaches the West Bank he will be jailed.”

Mashharawi said the talks in Moscow were important because they came at a time when the Palestinian Authority leadership was continuing to wage war against the Dahlan group over their demand for reform in Fatah. The meeting, Mashharawi added, reflects the importance and presence of the Democratic Reform Movement in Fatah.

According to Mashharawi, Israel has always tried to exploit divisions among the Palestinians to argue that there is no Palestinian partner for peace.

Palestinian political analyst Akram Atallah said the dispute between Abbas and Dahlan has divided Fatah. Atallah noted that Abbas was now at odds with two other senior Fatah officials, Nasser al-Qudwa and Marwan Barghouti.

“All indications show that the upcoming Fatah conference (in March) will not restore the faction’s glory,” Atallah told the Al-Kofiya news website, which is affiliated with Dahlan. “[Former] Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat founded Fatah on the basis of diversity; it was the only faction that kept its opponents within the faction. “

Palestinian writer Emad Omar said some Fatah officials do not want to see their faction united, thus intensifying the dispute between Abbas and Dahlan. Omar noted that Fatah planned to run under three separate lists in parliamentary elections.

Al-Qudwa and Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison for their role in the terrorist attacks against Israelis during the Second Intifada two decades ago, formed their own electoral list called “Freedom”, openly challenging the list of Abbas affiliates. .

Fatah dissidents affiliated with Dahlan also planned to contest the vote as part of a special list.

Dahlan apparently hopes to resolve his dispute with Abbas before the Fatah general assembly in hopes of returning to the faction. Such a move would allow Dahlan to join the list of candidates touted as potential candidates to succeed Abbas, 85. The list includes, among others, the Palestinian Authority’s Chief of General Intelligence, Majed Faraj, senior Fatah officials Hussein al-Sheikh, Jibril Rajoub and Mahmoud Aloul, as well as Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh.

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