Supporters of Abbas rival arrested

Irish Times | Dec 30, 2010 by

MICHAEL JANSEN

 

PALESTINIAN SECURITY forces have rounded up supporters of former Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan on suspicion of plotting to oust Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. Arms and large sums of money were reportedly seized.

Mr Dahlan – a former head of security in Gaza once seen as a possible successor to Mr Abbas – has been suspended from membership in the central committee of Fatah, the dominant party in the West Bank. He was removed as Fatah’s media chief and replaced by Nabil Abu Rudeina, a close presidential aide.

Palestinian Authority (PA) institutions have been ordered to cease co-operating with Mr Dahlan, his television station in the West Bank city of Ramallah has been closed down and investigators are looking into his finances.

He has denied the charges against him, claiming he is being smeared by figures in the entourage of Mr Abbas who turned against him after he commented on the wealth of the president’s sons and called for his replacement.

Mr Dahlan’s latest dispute with policymakers began last September when he argued against returning to direct negotiations with Israel, which collapsed when Israel refused to renew its partial curb on construction of West Bank settlements.

His career has been repeatedly disrupted by differences with the ruling clique – former exiles who returned to the Palestinian territories after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. As a Gazan who spent years in Israeli jails, he criticised the returnees for riding roughshod over Palestinians who lived under Israeli occupation.

In 2007, he tried and failed to mount a coup against Hamas in Gaza, resulting in the expulsion of Fatah’s security apparatus.

While many Palestinians are likely to welcome the removal of Mr Dahlan, measures taken against him are not expected to boost Mr Abbas’s standing.

Palestinian lawyer Anis Kassem, a former PA adviser, observed widespread “rejection” of the prime movers of Oslo. “They are peacemongers who negotiate while they make money, but we are still at square one. There has been no movement [toward peace] for 60 years . . . Fatah and Hamas have split the [Palestinian] cake, which is a rotten cake.”

Supporters of Abbas rival arrested – The Irish Times – Thu, Dec 30, 2010.

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