EXCLUSIVE: Imprisoned politician Marwan Barghouti running for Palestinian presidency
Hatem Abdel Qader, a senior official in the Fatah Party, told The New Arab’s Arabic language service Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that Barghouti will run for Palestinian president from an Israeli prison.
Abdel Qader believes that Barghouti "will constitute a strong competitor to any other candidate competing for this position, because of the appreciation, respect and acceptance he enjoys among a wide sector of the Fatah movement and, the general Palestinian public and other political factions".
He said that opinion polls appear to be on Barghouti's side and that he stands a good chance of winning if current President Mahmoud Abbas, whose presidency expired in 2009, makes the unlikely decision to abstain from running for parliament.
In 2017, Barghouti led the largest prisoners' hunger strike in Palestinian history and is regarded as a hero among the general public.
In April, he will mark 20 years of detention in Israeli prisons.
Meanwhile expelled Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan will also run for election under his Democratic Reform Current Party, which he claims to be an offshoot of Fatah.
He initially wanted to form a united Fatah front under his own leadership.
Dahlan, a former leading Fatah official, split with Abbas in 2010 and was forced into exile in the UAE after being accused of plotting a coup in Ramallah and corruption.
He played a lead role in the brutal, but unsuccessful, attempted overthrow of the Hamas authority in Gaza in 2007, when he fled to the West Bank.
Dahan is believed to have cultivated good relations with the Abu Dhabi leadership and US since being forced out of the West Bank.
It is reported that Dahlan's Democratic Reform Current Party has pumped more than $300,000 to gain the support of voters in occupied Jerusalem.
Sources revealed to The New Arab that among those who agreed to form a coalition with Dahlan were a minority of people backing Barghouthi.
Barghouti is not apparently involved in Dahlan's plan.
Majed Al-Fityani, Secretary of Fatah's Revolutionary Council, told Al-Monitor that the Democratic Reform Current does not have any links to Fatah, adding that its members "are the reason for all the internal crises inside the movement".
Abbas on Friday signed a decree setting legislative elections for 22 May and a presidential vote on 31 July, in what would be the first Palestinian polls in 15 years.