A key rival of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is reported to be sending aid to marginalised areas in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem suburbs, and the Gaza Strip. According to Lebanon's Al-Akhbar on Thursday, deposed Fatah official Mohammed Dahlan has sent the money as part of his preparations for the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.
The newspaper quoted Dahlan loyalists as saying that the payments that have arrived in Jerusalem are estimated to amount to one million shekels ($300,000). Dahlan, they said, believes that the elections are a "golden opportunity" to demonstrate his presence and weight in the Palestinian arena.
However, senior Palestinian officials have asserted that Dahlan will not be allowed to run in the presidential election, because he is a convicted criminal. In 2016, a PA court in Ramallah sentenced him in absentia to three years in prison after finding him guilty of embezzling $16 million. Dahlan has always denied the charges.
Al-Akhbar, however, pointed out that Dahlan does not have to run personally as his supporters plan to run on independent lists. He enjoys wide popularity in densely populated refugee camps in the occupied West Bank, notably Balata in Nablus, Al-Amari in Ramallah and Jenin.
"Dahlan's base in the West Bank has a hierarchical structure and consists of both armed and unarmed groups led by community leaders who attract the loyalty of the youth," said the newspaper.
Last week, Hamas thanked Dahlan for helping to secure much-needed medical support for the besieged Gaza Strip to help those suffering from Covid-19. A senior Hamas official expressed the group's gratitude to Abu Dhabi, where he is based, and Dahlan's Democratic Reform Bloc for providing the aid, which included equipment for producing liquid oxygen, 30 ventilators and other medical supplies.