Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank have arrested supporters of Mohammed Dahlan, the ousted member of the Fatah Central Committee who is facing charges of financial corruption and murder.
Last Friday, Dahlan returned to Ramallah for the first time in many months.
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On Sunday, he appeared before a disciplinary court belonging to Fatah to answer charges about his role in financial corruption and murder.
The Fatah Central Committee, which voted last month in favor of kicking Dahlan from the faction, accused him of financial corruption and murder without giving further details.
Dahlan has also been accused of plotting to undermine the PA leadership.
Again, the PA has failed to provide any evidence of the alleged conspiracy, saying only that Dahlan and his supporters had been gathering weapons and establishing bases of power in the West Bank.
Dahlan has strongly denied all the charges, arguing that he is the victim of a smear campaign orchestrated by some of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s top aides.
Dahlan supporters claimed that the crisis with Abbas was the result of a financial dispute between the deposed Fatah official and the PA president’s sons.
Dahlan’s trial in Ramallah, which began on Sunday, is being held behind
closed doors. Sources close to Dahlan said that he told the court that
the decision to expel him from Fatah was illegal and illegitimate.
Hours before Dahlan arrived in Ramallah, the PA security forces rounded
up 15 of his supporters, including his personal aide, Nidal Abu Sultan,
and a number of security officers serving in various branches of the
Palestinian security forces.
All of the men who were taken into custody are Fatah loyalists who moved from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank in recent years.
The clampdown on the Dahlan loyalists has created tensions between Fatah cadres in the West Bank and those in the Gaza Strip.
Sufyan Abu Zayda, a top Fatah official, called on Abbas to order the PA
security forces to immediately release Dahlan’s supporters from prison.
He said that the arrests were unjustified and immoral.