As Palestinians prepared for his or her first elections in 15 years, two highly effective gamers loom giant from afar.
One is a royal adviser residing within the rich United Arab Emirates who has simply despatched a big cargo of COVID-19 vaccines to the impoverished Gaza Strip.
The opposite is a jailed terrorist of the Second Intifada, who has lived in an Israeli jail cell for practically twenty years.
The function of the 2 political heavyweights — UAE-based Mohammed Dahlan, and imprisoned Marwan Barghouti — is seen as essential forward of the Could 22 legislative and July 31 presidential votes.
Dahlan, 59, who hails from Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, served because the Palestinian Authority’s safety chief within the coastal enclave earlier than the Islamist terror group Hamas gained a 2006 election and seized management the next yr.
His as soon as shut relationship with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, now 85, fractured after the PA misplaced Gaza, and the 2 grew to become bitter enemies.
After being convicted of corruption in a Palestinian court docket a decade in the past, Dahlan moved to Abu Dhabi, the place he has grow to be an influential safety adviser to UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed.
In Dahlan’s household house in Gaza, painted glowing white in distinction to the gray neighborhood, his kin confirmed off his faculty report playing cards, which revealed the next aptitude for historical past than Islamic research.
However they have been particularly happy with his newest coup: sending 20,000 doses of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V final month into Gaza through Egypt. Dahlan on Wednesday introduced one other 40,000 doses can be despatched from the UAE to Gaza.
Professional-Dahlan teams have additionally handed out meals and cash.
Omran, a 36-year-old unemployed man, stated he lately acquired 80 Israeli shekels ($24) from a pro-Dahlan supply, a present that prompted him to induce his kin to again him.
Emad Mohsen, a Dahlan pal in Gaza, informed AFP the help was “unconditional,” with no political strings connected, and added that extra vaccines can be delivered within the coming weeks.
However the marketing campaign has clearly gained Dahlan help within the enclave, the place it’s he and never Abbas who’s now most intently related to the motion.
“We will’t wait to vote for Fatah!” stated 29-year-old Amna al-Demaisy.
“What has Hamas executed for us? This election may convey outcomes that assist us eat, drink and discover jobs.”
Gaza vs. West Financial institution
Whereas pro-Dahlan teams appear to function with little hassle in Hamas-run Gaza, they face a extra tense local weather within the PA-controlled West Financial institution.
“We cooperate with Hamas on humanitarian grounds in Gaza,” stated Osama al-Farra, a Gaza-based Dahlan ally. “Within the West Financial institution, issues are rather more troublesome for us.”
Clashes have erupted in latest months between Dahlan supporters and the Abbas-controlled PA safety forces, together with lethal violence within the Balata refugee camp final yr.
This complicates the image as Palestinian factions are working to agree on Fatah-Hamas unity figures for candidate lists due on March 20.
“Our purpose is to have a united record,” stated Farra.
“However, if that’s not attainable, we are going to make different plans,” he added, contemplating the chance that Dahlan joins an anti-Abbas camp.
“That’s the reason we’re negotiating with Marwan Barghouti.”
The preferred Palestinian chief is in jail
Barghouti, 61, has been in Israeli custody for practically twenty years after being convicted over a number of killings in terror assaults in the course of the second Palestinian intifada, or rebellion.
He stays among the many hottest Palestinian leaders, polls commonly present, and is usually likened by his supporters to South Africa’s veteran anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela.
A number of weeks in the past, senior Fatah determine and Abbas confidant Hussein al-Sheikh visited Barghouti in jail, partly to evaluate his plans forward of the elections.
A potential Barghouti candidacy from behind Israeli bars is among the many hottest subjects in Palestinian political chatter.
His cousin, Raed, dampened expectations in an interview with AFP in Kober, the household’s West Financial institution village, insisting that “Marwan won’t take part within the parliamentary elections.”
Sitting on a terrace overlooking a valley with olive timber, Raed Barghouti stated that Marwan, nonetheless, desires to offer his enter in figuring out Fatah’s candidates.
If his voice shouldn’t be revered, Marwan may again a rival record, Raed stated.
For Abbas, who has not stated whether or not he desires to run once more, threats to his grip on Fatah are multiplying.
Moreover Dahlan, Nasser al-Kidwa, a nephew of late iconic Palestinian chief Yasser Arafat, has stated he’ll run for the presidency.
Abbas’ camp is “involved about Barghouti, Dahlan and Kidwa, as a result of each vote they get will come on the expense of Fatah and subsequently profit Hamas,” stated Palestinian analyst Ghassan Khatib.
Many observers have been skeptical that the Palestinians would truly head to elections, given years of failed electoral guarantees by the Palestinian management. However the suspicion is slowly rising in diplomatic circles that this time, it might truly occur.
Barghouti’s brother, Muqbil, for his half, was sure that Marwan will run in opposition to Abbas.
“Then we’ll have a president in jail,” he stated. “That may present the world how the Palestinians dwell.”