The sources said Dahlan was being quietly supported by at least two Arab
states — Egypt and Jordan. They said Arab support for Dahlan was based
on the assessment that he would be the key candidate for Palestinian
leadership after the resignation of the 75-year-old Abbas.
Dahlan has also been consulting with several Western nations,
particularly Britain and the United States. The sources said the reception
has been mixed within the United States, but more supportive in European
Union countries who see Dahlan as a bulwark to a Hamas takeover.
The sources said Dahlan continues to wield considerable support within
Fatah and the PA. They said the bulk of his support comes from Fatah members
in or from the Gaza Strip, which Dahlan virtually ruled until 2007. They
said Abbas pressured members of the Fatah Central Committee to either
support or abstain on the vote to expel Dahlan.
"There is a personal feud between Abu Mazen [Abbas] and Dahlan, and I
don't think they could be in the same room together without a fight breaking
out," another Dahlan source said.
In November 2010, Dahlan, under threat from Abbas, left the West Bank
and relocated his family in Amman, Jordan. Since then, Dahlan, long regarded
as mercurial, has formed what the sources termed a working relationship with
Egypt, Jordan and several Gulf Cooperation Council states.
"He has learned the value of Arab support where for years he thought
that Western support was enough," a Dahlan source said. "He has learned to
form coalitions and consult with other players rather than merely dominate.
He is much more able to listen."
Still, Dahlan has failed to reconcile with the Hamas regime in the Gaza
Strip. The sources said Dahlan made several efforts to end the enmity with
Hamas, but was rebuffed.
At one point, Hamas even refused to acknowledge a written proposal from
Dahlan for dialogue. They said a key opponent was former Hamas Foreign
Minister Mahmoud Zahar, who accused Dahlan of ordering the assassination of
Fatah and Hamas members.
"The main problem is that the Hamas leadership is scared of a backlash
in case the rank-and-file finds out that there is a dialogue," the Dahlan
source said. "What Zahar says is personal and clearly not the last word of
the Hamas leadership, which will probably deal with Dahlan only when it is
clear that he will be the next Palestinian leader."