Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party is withdrawing membership from Nasser al-Qudwa after revealing his own list of candidates in upcoming polls.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party has expelled one of its high-ranking officials for attempting to draw up a separate list of candidates for a parliamentary election.
In a statement on Thursday, Fatah’s Central Committee said it had given Nasser al-Qudwa two days to reverse his decision and drop his demolition challenge, but that he had violated the regulations.
Al-Qudwa, a member of the committee and nephew of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, has not yet commented on his dismissal.
Last week, al-Qudwa announced that he would draw up a list to run against Fatah in the parliamentary vote in May.
He called on party member Marwan Barghouti, a popular Palestinian leader who is serving five life sentences in Israel after a military tribunal convicted of “terrorism” during the 2000-2005 uprising, to lead the list of candidates.
The 85-year-old Abbas has been ruling the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the Israeli-occupied West Bank for more than a decade. The last Palestinian elections took place 15 years ago.
Abbas has ordered presidential and parliamentary elections in the coming months. They would be the first parliamentary elections since 2006, when Hamas won a landslide victory, also due to divisions within Fatah.
This sparked a series of crises and internal clashes that culminated in Hamas’ bloody seizure of power in Gaza the following year.
It is far from certain that the elections will actually take place. Fatah and Hamas have been bitterly divided since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, and several attempts at reconciliation have failed.
Abbas also faces rivalries within Fatah where other current or former members could follow in al-Qudwa’s footsteps and make their own lists.
That would run the risk of diluting Fatah’s support and paving the way for another Hamas victory.
Abbas’ popularity has plummeted in recent years as he failed to fuel Palestinian hopes for statehood or improve relations with Hamas.
There have been no substantial peace negotiations with Israel in more than a decade, and the PA is widely viewed as increasingly corrupt and autocratic. Abbas, who was elected for a four-year term in 2005, has not named a successor.