Mohammed Dahlan has said he expected challengers to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ahead of upcoming Palestinian elections, the former leader of Fatah in Gaza told Al Arabiya in a special interview.
“The current institutions will decide who will be on the list of candidates, and if we are going to nominate a specific person for the presidency. But I can guarantee brother Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) that he will not be the only candidate in the upcoming elections,” Dahlan said.
“My words are clear. I don’t want to get ahead of events but I can say that he will not be the only candidate,” Dahlan added, without confirming or denying that he will nominate himself in either the upcoming legislative or president elections.
Dahlan, long considered a political rival of Abbas, has been living and based in the United Arab Emirates for years since leaving Gaza. He is also considered one of those expected to challenge Abbas in the upcoming presidential elections.
A day earlier, Palestinian rival factions Fatah and Hamas agreed in Cairo to a code of conduct to ensure upcoming elections are run based on “transparency and integrity.”
The Palestinian parliamentary and presidential polls are set for May 22 and July 31 respectively.
Dahlan also addressed criticism of his decision to live in exile in the UAE during his special interview with Al Arabiya. He was asked to address critics who recently said his assistance in getting much-needed COVID-19 vaccines to Gaza was done in order to score political points.
“Firstly, the UAE does not have a greedy interest in the Palestinian cause, not in the past, present or in the future. They have private circumstances which led them to take a sovereign and a political stance to normalize ties with Israel. As for their support in history, the UAE is the second Arab country that supports the Palestinian people financially after the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Dahlan told Al Arabiya.
Dahlan currently leads a Fatah breakaway movement that is poised to the Gaza Strip after a 14-year absence. Last month, two of the movement’s representatives returned to Gaza.
During the interview, Dahlan was asked again whether he would stand in either the local or presidential elections but would not confirm at this time his intentions, saying that he is focused on his “personal and national duty” for now.
“I am not talking about personal achievements. I am talking about a people suffering at least the last 15 years. An increase in poverty rates of the Palestinian people during the past 15 years. An increase in diseases, in stress, and a loss of hope. Therefore, I belong to this group of people who paid the price either in the Palestinian revolution or in building the Palestinian National Authority,” Dahlan said.
“I want to fulfill personal and nationalistic duty whether I was in the Palestinian National Authority or not. I have been out of the Palestinian National Authority for the past 15 years nearly. I was not late for day doing my duty and no one handed this duty to me. But, I gave that duty to myself to stand with these people and stand with them during any crisis,” he added.