Is this all deja-vue?
Several Fatah operatives in Jerusalem were surprised over the past week when they received phone calls from Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas warning them against running as independents in next month's parliamentary elections.
The threats came at the peak of the power struggle in the ruling Fatah party, which saw jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti forming his own list to contest the vote together with "young guard" activists.
"Anyone who dares to run as an independent will be kicked out of Fatah," Abbas's aides reportedly told the Fatah activists. "We will also see to it that dissidents don't receive jobs and money."
One of the activists who received such a phone call from Abbas's office later commented: "These threats remind us of the methods that were used by Yasser Arafat and the former regime to suppress critics. Abu Mazen [Abbas] is proving to be exactly like Arafat."
Indeed, an increasing number of Palestinians in general, and Fatah activists in particular, have begun noticing behavioral patterns in Abbas reminiscent of those of his predecessor. They say that the split in Fatah, fears of Hamas making a strong showing in the parliamentary election and growing chaos in the Palestinian territories have taken their toll on Abbas's performance.
"The man is in an unenviable state," said one of Abbas's top aides. "He's under attack from all directions - the old guard and the young guard [in Fatah], Hamas, Israel, the US, the European Union and many Palestinians who hold him responsible for the ongoing anarchy."