Report: Infighting, Assassination Attempts Marring Palestinian Unity

Infighting at the top of Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority—including alleged assassination attempts—are eroding the credibility of PA President Mahmoud Abbas and preventing Palestinian aspirations from being realized, longtime Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh reported Tuesday for the Gatestone Institute.

Palestinian sources reported that Mohammad Dahlan, Abbas’ former national security adviser who was expelled from the party in 2011 and is now living in the United Arab Emirates, was involved in a plot to assassinate members of Fatah who were living in the Gaza Strip. And multiple Palestinian sources reported that former intelligence chief Tawfiq Tirawi was allegedly behind a different plot to assassinate Fatah officials in Gaza.

Abu Toameh explained that the two plots had different motives: Dahlan was reportedly seeking revenge, but Tirawi was apparently trying to pin the murders on Hamas. Tirawi denied any involvement.

Supporters of Abbas and Dahlan have confronted each other on multiple occasions recently, Abu Toameh reported. At a memorial rally for late PLO terrorist Khalil al-Wazir, supporters of Abbas and Dahlan threw chairs and stones at each other. Supporters of the two politicians also clashed in Gaza.

“Some Palestinians see the internal strife as the most serious challenge to Abbas’s rule over Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, especially in wake of growing criticism among Palestinians against Abbas’s policies and autocratic regime,” Abu Toameh reported. He added that criticism of Abbas has increased since last week’s Hama victory in student elections at Birzeit University in the West Bank. “Many in Fatah hold Abbas and his veteran old guard leaders personally responsible for the defeat,” Abu Toameh wrote.

Even if the widely-reported assassination attempts are only rumors, Abu Toameh report, they still reflect a growing “disgust” with Abbas.

Whether true or not, Fatah’s credibility is crumbling, not only among the Palestinian public, but also among its own supporters. Hamas is thriving on the mayhem among the top brass of Fatah and disgust with Abbas and the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank. Rather than striving to improve the lives of Palestinians, Fatah leaders spend their time playing at being gangsters, settling scores. Meanwhile, Abbas continues his charade of lies with the international community that he and his Fatah faction are ready for a sovereign state.

Abu Toameh has also been sharply critical of Hamas and its misrule over Gaza, writing in February that “the last thing Hamas cares about is the welfare of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”

Grant Rumley, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, wrote in Newsweek on Monday that he faulted the West for failing to confront Abbas over his increasing levels of autocracy and corruption. “Abbas’s increasingly tyrannical government in the West Bank does not only handicap political expression—it also sets back the very legitimacy of the Palestinian national project,” Rumley concluded.

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