Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is trying to limit the damage of a split in his Fatah party which could boost his rivals in the Hamas militant group.Young dissidents in Fatah have announced they will field their own candidates in parliamentary elections in six weeks’ time. Fatah officials have begun talks with the rebels who are unhappy about not getting enough places on the official party list for January’s election. The rift comes amid a key electoral test for Abbas in the West Bank where people have been voting in municipal elections. Hamas is expected to make a strong showing in the territory’s major towns and cities. Heading the list of the breakaway Fatah faction is radical Marwan Barghouthi, who is serving a jail sentence in Israel for masterminding militant attacks. Abbas has already spoken to him by phone and the pair have reportedly agreed to have further discussions. Failure to resolve what is one of the worst crises in Fatah’s 40-year history could hand the initiative to Hamas and deal a blow to peace talks with Israel.