A new current has been active within the Fatah movement. Its founders have named it the “Democratic Reformist Current,” which consists of a large number of leaders who were dismissed by the movement’s leader Mahmoud Abbas, because they refused its policies, as well as other active leaders.
The conflict within the movement started to fully surface after former leader Mohammed Dahlan was dismissed from Fatah’s Central Committee on corruption charges and ended all ties with the movement on June 12, 2011. Yet in 2015, the Corruption Crimes Court in Ramallah rejected the accusations directed against him and closed the case. Dahlan has been residing in the United Arab Emirates ever since.
Dahlan’s dismissal was followed by the dismissal of many other leaders and cadres supporting him, which resulted in the movement splitting into two currents: the pro-Abbas current and the opposing reformist current led by Dahlan.
Abdul Hamid al-Masri, a former member of Fatah's Revolutionary Council, who was dismissed from the council two years ago, and who is a founder of the reformist current from the Gaza Strip, told Al-Monitor that the current is a part of the Fatah movement and that they are seeking reforms within Fatah through this current.
He said, “We want to bring about reforms in terms of all of the defects caused to the movement’s internal regulations, the violations and the monopoly of leaders over the movement’s decision-making. These include the dismissal of Dahlan and fellow members of the Revolutionary Council, including myself. We do not perceive the dismissal as legal, because it did not go in line with the movement's internal regulations, such as a two-thirds vote of the Revolutionary Council’s members that is required for the members’ dismissal. For that reason, many Fatah members and leaders have rejected the dismissal.”
He said, “I think that Abbas and those members opposing the return of the reformist current’s members to Fatah — who rejected the policy of marginalization, isolation, persecution and oppression that they have been subjected to — are few. In contrast, those voices calling for the members to return to the movement and assume their roles are the majority. Abbas is not the inevitable fate of Palestine or the Fatah movement. He was preceded by Yasser Arafat, who died, but Fatah survived. Abbas will leave and the movement will survive.”
..Are the founders of the reformist current planning to establish a new independent political body that represents them?
Political analyst Akram Atallah told Al-Monitor, “Although roughly four years have gone by since Dahlan and his supporters were dismissed from the movement, it is still unknown whether or not Dahlan and those supporting him will form a new party or return to the movement, based on reconciliation between him and Abbas."
He added, “A feeling that work is underway toward the formation of a parallel party prevails sometimes. At other times, there is a feeling that work is underway to go back to the movement. This time, the matter is different from the previous defections, or even from the other Palestinian factions, like the defection of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine that split up into two parties in 1968. So far, it is still unclear where this issue is heading.”
The acrimony between Abbas and Dahlan reached a peak a couple of years ago when Abbas blamed Dahlan for being responsible for the death of Yasir Arafat. But Dahlan's popularity has been pretty steady, especially in Gaza.
Certainly some Palestinian newspapers openly support the Dahlan faction and criticize Abbas. I haven't seen much call for a separate party, though, and everyone understands that such a move would weaken Fatah's hold on the PLO, which is really the organization that runs things.
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