The nephew of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has been ejected from the West Bank’s ruling party after criticising its leadership in an interview with The Telegraph and announcing plans to form a new political movement.
Fatah announced on Thursday that Nasser al-Qudwa, who represented Arafat at the United Nations in the 1990s, had been stripped of his membership in the party’s powerful Central Committee.
Mr Qudwa is believed to have angered Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, by proposing his own list of candidates ahead of elections this summer.
The polls, due to take place in May and July, will be the first in 15 years.
Mr Qudwa also criticised Mr Abbas’ leadership record in an interview with the Telegraph earlier this week, in which he also called for a crackdown on corruption and the enforcement of term limits.
He was given 48 hours to retract his election proposals by top committee members of Fatah, which was founded by his uncle, but refused to do so.
“Following the failure of all efforts exerted by the committee members who talked with him, and in compliance with the movement’s bylaws and decisions and in order to preserve its unity, the decision to end his membership shall be effective as of the date of its issuance,” Fatah said in a statement.
Mr Qudwa’s banishment from the Committee will fuel speculation that he will run against Fatah with Marwan Barghouti, a popular Palestinian figure serving a life sentence in Israel for a series of deadly terror attacks.
“At this stage, I personally said that if Marwan Barghouti runs, and he expressed interest in running, I’ll be supporting him,” Mr Qudwa told the Telegraph this week.
Some polls have suggested that Mr Barghouti would comfortably beat Mr Abbas, while Mr Qudwa also stands to gain considerable support as the nephew of the so-called father of Palestinian nationalism.
Earlier this month, Mr Qudwa hosted an online policy forum with 250 Palestinians, where they discussed plans for the new political movement and some of its key policies.
According to local reports, the new group will be called the Palestinian National Democratic Forum.