Israel has notified Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of a plan by senior Palestinian officials in Ramallah to overthrow his regime, Arab media outlets reported on Tuesday.
The reports claimed that former PA prime minister Salam Fayyad and senior PLO and Fatah officials were behind the effort to topple Abbas.
The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai quoted a source close to Abbas as saying that “Israeli security agencies” informed Hussein a-Sheikh, a senior Palestinian official in Ramallah, of the projected coup.
The source said that after receiving the information, Abbas ordered PA security forces to keep an on eye of a list of Palestinian figures and to probe their bank accounts, phone calls and correspondence through social media.
In addition to Fayyad, the source said, the suspects include former PA General Intelligence Service chief Tawfik Tirawi, who is also a top Fatah official, and PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo. The source also named ousted Fatah official Muhammad Dahlan as complicit in the alleged plot.
The source claimed that the suspects were apparently in touch with jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life terms in prison for his involvement in terrorist attacks against Israelis.
Another source said that Abbas and his aides were surprised to hear about Fayyad’s alleged involvement.
The reports came after Israel announced on August 18 that it had arrested 93 Hamas members in the West Bank who had plotted to overthrow Abbas.
Hamas has denied the charge as nonsense, while Abbas ordered an investigation into Israel’s announcement.
Fayyad resigned as prime minister in 2013 and has since formed a nonprofit organization in Ramallah called Future for Palestine.
The organization’s focus is to “undertake development work in areas that are marginalized, with a special focus on east Jerusalem, Gaza and the so-called Area C in the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley.”
During Operation Protective Edge, Fayyad’s organization launched a massive campaign to send humanitarian aid to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip – a move that apparently raised eyebrows among Abbas’s inner circle regarding the sources of funding of Fayyad’s organization and his political ambitions.
Rakik Natsheh, director of the PA’s Bureau of Financial and Administrative Control, decided this week to set up a legal committee to look into laws and regulations governing the work of all nongovernmental organizations in the Palestinian territories.
The committee is meant to regulate the work of civic groups and ensure that they are operating within the law, Natsheh explained.
Following the decision to investigate NGOs, officers from the PA’s Preventive Security Service visited the offices of Future for Palestine and summoned two senior employees for questioning.
Palestinians in Ramallah said on Tuesday that the move against Fayyad’s nonprofit organization was “politically motivated” and intended to send a warning to hem “to keep a low profile.”
A Fatah official said that Abbas was obviously concerned about Fayyad’s attempt to establish “bases of power in the West Bank with the help of Western parties.”
Fayyad said on Tuesday that “there has been no police search of my office or home.”
However, he added: “There has been some activity which I am told is part of an effort on the part of the PA to verify compliance with rules and regulations. In the case of the organization I head, Future for Palestine, I am perfectly comfortable that we are in full compliance and with substantial margin to spare.”
Fayyad did not comment on reports about his alleged involvement in a scheme to topple Abbas.