Palestinian Islamic Jihad internal elections reinforced Iranian dominance over the movement’s leadership, amid accusations of corruption facing some of the group’s most powerful activists.
Perhaps one of the most prominent evidence of the PIJ’s administration swinging in favor of pro-Iran policy is that the movement elected Ziad al-Nakhla as its new chief to replace Ramadan Shalah.
“The movement announced the election of Ziad al-Nakhala as its new politburo chief, replacing former leader Abdullah Shalah,” PIJ spokesman Dawood Shihab said Friday.
Nakhala is the third secretary-general of the movement after Shalah, who has suffered a major health problem for several months, and the founder of the group Fathi Shikaki, who was assassinated in 1995.
The new chief was born in the Gaza Strip in 1953 and spent 14 years in a prison in Israel. He lived between Lebanon and Syria and has been the deputy of Shalah since he was elected to office.
Shihab also announced the names of the politburo members of the movement in the Gaza Strip.
PIJ insider sources said that Iran was pleased with Nakhala's election which left Mohammed al-Hindi with the post of deputy secretary-general.
Sources explained that Iran favors Nakhala over Hindi, given the latter’s close positions to Turkey, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Hamas movement.
Only 1,000 PIJ enlisted members in Gaza enjoy the right to vote, sources said.
Only territorial officials, 200 politburo members, 200 military wing officials, 200 freed prisoners and historic movement figures were allowed to vote, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Just three days before electing Nakhala, the PIJ Supervisory Committee claimed that both Ibrahim Shehadeh and Ibrahim al-Murr were disqualified on the grounds that they did not meet the specific conditions, sources added.
The move sparked a serious dispute among senior movement leaders who accused influential figures of overriding the movement’s hierarchy.