Leaders within the Fatah faction of Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas accused Iran and Syria on Thursday of encouraging Hamas and other terrorist groups to establish a new leadership that would challenge the Palestine Liberation Organization's claim to be the "sole and legitimate" representative of Judean, Samarian and Gazan Arabs, according to the Jerusalem Post. The accusations follow remarks by Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on Wednesday that current conditions require Arabs living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza to start thinking about the creation of a new leadership that would represent all factions, adding that the PLO was no longer the legitimate representative of the Palestinians "because of its role in deepening divisions among the Palestinians," he said.
Abbas told US Middle East envoy George Mitchel in Ramallah on Thursday that he was very worried about the role of Iran and Syria in the Fatah-Hamas conflict, and warned that any attempt to create an alternative leadership to the PLO would "consolidate divisions" among area Arabs. His protests were echoed by other Fatah leaders.
The PA fears that the potential new leadership, which would be headed by Mashaal, would be recognized by several Islamic governments and is being backed by prominent Arab political analysts, newspaper editors and even veteran Fatah leader Farouk Kaddoumi.