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Dahlan slams 'Erdoganist' Abbas but rules out run at Palestinian presidency

Veteran Fatah official says Abbas trying to drive out all disobedient voices and should be replaced by Palestinian prisoner Marwan Barghouti
Rivalry between Abbas and Dahlan has led to clashes between their supporters in Nablus (AFP)

Veteran Fatah official Mohammed Dahlan has called for Mahmoud Abbas to quit as president of the Palestinian Authority, but has ruled out any intention of succeeding him.

In a rare interview from his home in Egypt, Dahlan said that he would instead back the candidacy of Palestinian prisoner Marwan Barghouti.

Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences for murder in an Israeli prison, has proven to be popular among Palestinians. Polls earlier this year showed him enjoying strong public support to succeed Abbas. 

Dahlan, a major Abbas rival supported by the UAE and Egypt, told the Palestinian media agency Maan that Abbas lacked leadership, and that Fatah was not "Erdoganist" - a reference to Recep Tayyip Erdogan's concentration of power within the AKP in Turkey.

"Abu Mazen [Abbas] is working to drive out all the voices that aren't obedient," he said.

"He ought to learn from past experience... and understand that an Erdoganist policy isn't suited to Fatah."

He also lashed out at the PA, which he said complains of insufficient funds while spending "hundreds of millions on building embassies all over the world, on travel, and on delegations". 

He also called on Barghouti to not accept any overtures from the current PA president as rumours have surfaced of Abbas intending to give him the post of deputy president. 

Dahlan used the interview to also outline his refusal to accept any attempt to expel him and his supporters from the Fatah party, at the seventh Fatah general conference, which is due to be held next month.

Clashes in West Bank 

The rivalry between Abbas and Dahlan is so severe that clashes broke out between Dahlan's supporters and the PA Security services, who opened fire on each other last week. 

These clashes came amid violent demonstrations in refugee camps in Nablus, Jenin and Ramallah.

In the Maan interview, Dahlan also warned that the Gaza Strip was “on the verge of an explosion” due to its humanitarian situation.

“Politics can go to hell,” he said. “Gaza needs to breathe; it needs artificial respiration in an intensive care unit.

"Gaza needs food, water and medicine. Men in Gaza weep every day because they have no way to bring food home.”

Dahlan came back to the headlines after various leaders across the Middle East urged Abbas to reconcile with his long time rival. 

Abbas's refusal to reconcile with Dahlan has led to a strain in relations between the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and leader of the PA. 

Dahlan said there had been six attempts by Palestinian factions and Arab countries to rebuild his relationship with Abbas. All had failed.

"At the beginning of each reconciliation initiative, Abu Mazen would agree, but at the end he would go back on his word, despite the fact that I gave up on all my rights except the right to remain in Fatah," Dahlan said.

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