Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas expelled prominent critic Nasser al-Qidwa from the Fatah party on Thursday.
“Al-Qidwa was given 48 hours to withdraw his declared position to form an independent list,” the statement said., which violated the internal regime, decisions and unity of Fatah,” Abbas wrote in a decree ordering Al-Qidwa’s dismissal.
Al-Qidwa announced last week that he planned to contest Abbas’s Fatah movement’s main slate in the Palestinian legislative elections, which are scheduled for May 22. Another round of elections, for the Palestinian Authority presidency, is scheduled to be held on June 31.
Anticipation has slowly been growing, however, both in diplomatic circles and among the Palestinian public. Around 93 percent of eligible Palestinians registered to vote in the upcoming elections in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Central Elections Commission.
Al-Qidwa, the nephew of former Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat, has long been critical of Abbas. He has worked at several foreign posts, including as the PA’s envoy to the United Nations, where he developed a reputation as an effective and capable diplomat.
In recent weeks, however, al-Qidwa has become more outspoken in his criticism of the current Palestinian Authority government. At a virtual conference streamed by Birzeit University in late February, al-Qidwa said the Palestinian political system needed to be dramatically revamped.
“We need radical change in our political system, even as we struggle against Israeli actions,” al-Qidwa said.
Several senior Fatah officials could not be reached for comment. But many have expressed frustration that a senior official would break ranks and have dismissed his criticism of the political system.
The tension between Fatah’s leading members and al-Qidwa has been growing for several weeks. At the beginning of the recent election push, al-Qidwa came out strongly against a tentatively planned joint Fatah-Hamas electoral slate. He later was said to have boycotted several meetings of the Fatah Central Committee.
Mohammad Dahlan, leader of Democratic Reformists within Fatah Movement said on Thursday that the decision to dismiss Nasser Al-Qidwa from the Central Committee and membership of the Fatah movement violates all the movement’s rules and regulations and its ancient customs.
In a statement published on his Facebook account, Dahlan considered that dismissing al-Qudwa is “a new step in the dispersal of the capabilities and power of Fatah”.
“Fatah Movement has not witnessed in its long history such a degree of tyranny, exclusivity and deviation from the traditions of diversity and containing all ideas and opinions,” Dahlan wrote in Arabic.
He added that “The decision to dismiss Nasser al-Qidwa confirms the impossibility of accepting the approach of Mahmoud Abbas, which has become a real threat to the interests of our people, its unity, its cause, and an imminent danger to Fatah.”
“The time has come for the leaders, cadres and bases of the movement to rise to face this organized destruction of a spiteful and incompetent person who is a source of the movement’s weakness and the decline of its status and capabilities,” Dahlan said.
Abbas-led Fatah Party dismissed on Thursday Nasser al-Qidwa, from the party and its central committee, an official statement said.
A press statement said the move came days after al-Qidwa announced his intention to form an independent electoral list under the name (National Democratic Forum) to run in the legislative elections scheduled on May 22.
The statement accused al-Qidwa of “bypassing Fatah’s internal rules and undermining the unity of Fatah.”
“After all efforts were made in the last three days to convince him (al-Qidwa) to abide by the rules of the party, and to preserve unity, the committee decided to dismiss him effective from its history,” the statement added.
al-Qidwa, 67, has been a member of the Fatah Central Committee (the party’s highest leadership body) since 2009. He is also the nephew of late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, founder of the party.
In January, Palestinian President Abbas announced that the 2021 general election will include legislative elections on May 22, presidential elections on July 31, and the Palestinian National Council elections on Aug. 31.
The last Palestinian presidential elections were held in March 2005, and the legislative elections in January 2006.