The secretary-general of the Fatah Central Committee, Jibril Rajoub said at a separate press briefing outside in Ramallah, West Bank , “Palestinian Authority as “turncoats”
A Fatah official dismissed the group as “turncoats.”
Also popular Palestinian militant broke with the political party that controls the Palestinian Authority late Wednesday, escalating a power struggle and dimming the party’s hopes of retaining a monopoly on power in parliamentary elections.
Mr. Barghouthi’s faction joined forces with another longtime protagonist of Palestinian politics, Nasser al-Kidwa, a nephew of Mr. Arafat and a former Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, who split from Fatah this year.
On Wednesday night, Fatah members acting on his behalf broke with the party, forming a separate electoral slate that will compete against Fatah in the elections in May.
Mr. Abbas, who has led the Palestinian Authority for 16 years, called for new elections in January in the hope of reasserting his democratic legitimacy and re-establishing a unified Palestinian administration. The authority manages parts of the occupied West Bank, while Hamas runs the Gaza Strip.
The authority has not held elections since 2006 for its parliament, the Palestinian Legislative Council. Mr. Abbas has repeatedly postponed them, at least partly because he feared losing to Hamas, which wrested control of the Gaza Strip from the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority in 2007.
This is one of the most significant political developments in Fatah since Abbas became president in 2005,” said Ghaith al-Omari, a former adviser to Mr. Abbas and a senior analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a research group in Washington. “Barghouthi and Al-Qudwa are a combination that can’t be easily dismissed by the Fatah leadership. They have a very deep reservoir of legitimacy in the party and they represent a major challenge to Abbas’s hold on power in it.”
Fatah’s supporters will now be forced to choose among three Fatah-linked factions — the official party, Muhammad Dahlan and Barghouthi-al-Qudwa alliance.
Members of Mr. Barghouthi’s alliance said they had created the new faction to revitalize Palestinian politics, which has increasingly become a one-man show centered around Mr. Abbas, who has ruled by decree for more than a decade.
“The Palestinian political system can no longer only be reformed,” said Hani al-Masri, a member of the new alliance, at a news briefing on Wednesday night. “It needs deep change.”
Mr. Abbas has canceled elections in the past, and some believe he may seek to do so again in the coming weeks.
But at this point, a cancellation would be “very expensive, politically,” said Ghassan Khatib, a Ramallah-based political analyst and a former minister under Mr. Abbas. “There is a high political price for that.”