Arab states have reportedly hand-picked Palestinian leader to succeed Abbas

Mohammed Dahlan gesturing during an interview at his office in Abu Dhabi, Sept. 16, 2015. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Mohammed Dahlan gesturing during an interview at his office in Abu Dhabi, Sept. 16, 2015. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

(JTA) – The United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan are reportedly planning to have former Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan replace Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Citing unnamed senior Palestinian and Jordanian sources, Middle East Eye reported Friday on the joint plan to bring Dahlan, the former leader of Abbas’ Fatah party in the Gaza Strip, back from exile in the Gulf.

The plan was discussed with Israel, according to the article, which did not indicate Israel’s reaction.

Dahlan, a bitter rival of Abbas, was driven from Gaza after Hamas seized control of the coastal enclave in 2007. In 2011, he was expelled from Fatah amid allegations of corruption and accusations that he had poisoned longtime Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat.

Abbas, 81, has headed the Palestinian Authority since 2005. Dahlan who is 54 and headed the Palestinian police in Gaza in the immediate aftermath of the 1993 Oslo Accords, “has close ties to” the United Arab Emirates’s royals, according to the Middle East Eye.

The Middle East Eye said the plans key goals are to unite Fatah and strengthen it against Hamas, weaken Hamas, complete a peace agreement with Israel and seize control of sovereign Palestinian institutions in the West Bank.

“Dahlan believes that Hamas is weaker than Fatah in Gaza and that Fatah is weaker than Hamas in the West Bank and that Fatah could win if it were to be united whereas Hamas is likely to win if Fatah remained disunited,” a senior Palestinian source told the Middle East Eye.

“The parties [the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Egypt] believe that Mahmoud Abbas has expired politically and that they should endeavour to stop any surprises by Abbas during the period when Fatah will remain under his leadership until the elections are held,” the source said.

According to the report, Jordan has concerns about Dahlan, however, namely his reputation for being unpopular among Palestinians and allegations that he is corrupt and has ties to the Israeli security services.

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