Mahmoud Abbas loyalists are threatening to tarnish an imprisoned rival’s image with “false information” about his family’s sexual affairs, corruption, and embezzlement.

By Baruch Yedid, TPS

Internal tensions with Fatah are increasing as the elections for the Palestinian Authority’s leadership near. Fatah activists from Muhammad Dahlan’s camp, ousted by PA leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), say they intend to compile an independent separate list ahead of the election that will include “national figures.”

Dahlan has not yet decided whether to unite his list with Marwan Barghouti’s Fatah camp, but a senior activist close to Dahlan told TPS that this is “absolutely possible.”

Meanwhile, Dahlan’s people in the Gaza Strip have begun political activity, with the approval of Hamas, in preparation for the formation of their list for the elections, and it is possible that Dahlan’s “al-Zalahi” faction will hold primaries in the near future.

It is not only the Dahlan camp that is signaling its intention to establish a separate list and face Abbas’ list.

Hatem ‘Abd al-Qader, a member of Fatah’s revolutionary council, told the Palestinian media that “Marwan Barghouti is determined to run for president” against Abu Mazen.

Meanwhile, Fatah sources claim that Palestinian intelligence officials loyal to Abu Mazen are threatening to act against Barghouti by disseminating false information intended to tarnish his image.

Among other things, the officials are threatening to publish information about sexual affairs and corruption in Barghouti’s family, as well as information about embezzlement of funds in which his wife, lawyer Padua Barghouti, is supposedly involved.

Embarrassing information about Barghouti’s behavior during the prisoners’ strike could also be used by Palestinian intelligence to settle political accounts.

Abu Mazen sent PA Minister of Civilian Affairs Hussein A-Sheikh to meet Barghouti in a prison in Israel last week.

“I would like to deny everything that has been reported in the media regarding Barghouti’s intention to face Abu Mazen,” A-Sheikh told TPS in a telephone conversation. “Barghouti fully understands the need for the unification of Fatah.”

A-Sheikh described his meeting with Barghouti as “a civil and positive conversation and without any pressure.”

“I updated Barghouti on the resumption of dialogue with the United States and Israel and on the reconciliation talks in Cairo and he fully understands that the goal is to unite Fatah and win the legislative elections,” A-Sheikh said.

On the other hand, a Fatah source told TPS that Barghouti’s men are pressuring him not to back down after he was visited by A-Sheikh in an effort to persuade him not to run.

Barghouti’s associates say he will not even agree to accept the top slot on the Fatah list in exchange for giving up his run for the presidency.