Gunmen broke into and opened fire at a Fatah’s movement conference Sunday convened to discuss reforms and elections.

Around 20 gunmen interrupted the meeting firing their weapons into the air and above the stage where some 70 Palestinian legislators and senior Fatah officials had convened in the West Bank city of Nablus to discuss several proposals calling for reforms and for holding Parliamentarian elections. Nobody was hurt.

The meeting was suspended and several delegates met with the gunmen to discuss whether the conference could continue.

The gunmen identified themselves as members of the Al Awda Brigades. One of them told Associated Press that they believed the meeting was part of a conspiracy directed against Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

Dahlan slams Arafat’s Leadership

In an unprecedented move, Palestinian ex-security affairs minister Mohamed Dahlan slammed the leadership of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, calling for immediate reforms and a new approach.

In an interview with the Kuwaiti based Al-Watan newspaper, Dahlan said that Arafat is sitting on bodies and destruction while Palestinians need support and a new leadership with vision.

Dahlan described the current Palestinian leadership policies as useless and also responsible for the destruction of the Palestinian society.

Dahlan warned that if reforms, approved by Arafat, are not implemented by August 10, another wave of protests will be organized.

Dahlan referred to the results of the latest Fatah elections in the Gaza Strip, in which supporters of ‘immediate reforms’ won 95% of the seats, as a sign of power to the ‘ones who took the burden of the first and second Intifadas, and led the fight against corruption.’

Dahlan, a strong Gaza Strip Fatah leader is considered as the main opponent of the current Palestinian leadership.

Accused of having close ties with both the United States Administration and the Government of Israel, Dahlan’s supporters managed to overwhelmingly win last month’s Fatah internal elections.

Dahlan’s relation with Arafat has often been marked by instability; The most serious crisis between the two erupted when Arafat opposed his appointment as an interior minister in former prime minister Mahmoud Abbas’s cabinet.