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The Palestinian reconciliation that keeps Abbas awake at night

Jibril Rajoub and Mohammed Dahlan have decided to reconcile in preparation for the fight of their lives — the battle to succeed Mahmoud Abbas as Palestinian president and PLO chairman.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a leadership meeting in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank February 20, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman - RC15941FCAC0
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Like many good melodramas, it all began with a beautiful friendship that descended into a bitter rivalry. Eventually there was a reconciliation, but in the case of Palestinian leaders Mohammed Dahlan and Jibril Rajoub, it was driven entirely by their own self-interest.

Dahlan and Rajoub had met in the 1980s, as local PLO leaders, while imprisoned in Israel. Both were exiled, Dahlan to Jordan and Rajoub to Lebanon, during the first intifada in 1987. They would meet again in Tunis, where they PLO had established its headquarters after being expelled from Beirut after the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. In 1988, after Israeli commandos assassinated Khalil Wazir (Abu Jihad), the deputy to PLO leader Yasser Arafat who had been responsible for planning dozens of terrorist attacks, Arafat divided his responsibilities coordinating PLO activities between Dahlan and Rajoub.

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