Palestinians hold posters of Mohammed Dahlan during a Gaza rally, December 18, 2014.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The secret meeting that Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman had last month in Paris was not with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' rival Muhammad Dahlan, Maariv-Hashavua has learned.
In the meeting last month at the Raphael Hotel in the French capital, Mossad personnel were in attendance, which raises the likelihood that Liberman met with a prominent figure from the Arab or Muslim world. The meeting reportedly took place without Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's approval.
All of the people who were exposed to information about Liberman's trip were made to sign strict confidentiality agreements, Maariv-Hashavua
has further learned.
Dahlan, who lives in exile in the Gulf, was once a prominent official in Abbas's Western-backed Fatah movement but was ousted from the group in 2011 following accusations of corruption. He denied the charges and remains a powerful figure on the sidelines, forging ties with numerous Arab leaders and maintaining links with the splintered Fatah.
The 52-year-old Dahlan has been cited a possible future president of the Palestinian Authority.
In March of last year Abbas hinted in a speech that Dahlan may have been behind the murder of former leader Yasser Arafat
as well as six other people.
Dahlan said the speech was full of "lies ... stupidity and ignorance of the Palestinian reality."
Also at the beginning of 2014, Abbas's government cut the salaries of nearly 100 security men still loyal to him in an apparent effort to undermine his popularity.
Arab media have reported last year that Dahlan met Egypt's powerful army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and has also reached out to Hamas, the Islamist rulers of Gaza who have always viewed him with deep distrust.
Last month, thousands of Dahlan supporters marched through the streets
of Gaza City chanting slogans against Abbas.
The protesters carried photos of Dahlan and chanted slogans accusing Abbas of treason and holding him responsible for the continued blockade on Gaza. They also accused Abbas of destroying Fatah and compromising Palestinian rights.
On the day of the rally, Dahlan published a status on Facebook in which he accused Abbas of being a dictator and “forging facts on a daily basis.”
“Palestine can’t be run through bullying and dictatorship by Abbas and his gang. Today’s mass protest in the Gaza Strip by Fatah youths is a clear message to the tyrant of Ramallah marking the beginning of a new phase of opposing his policy, which is disrespectful of his people and Fatah,” Dahlan wrote.
Liberman, speaking on Sunday at the Foreign Ministry to a gathering of Israel's ambassadors in Europe said that the recent events in the international arena, including the Palestinian Authority’s decision to join the International Criminal Court
in the Hague, show that the Oslo accords have collapsed, as has the approach advocating a preservation of the status quo.
The keywords for Israeli diplomacy in 2015, he said, are “Israeli initiative.”
Following the reports on Sunday of the secret unauthorized meeting Meretz chief Zehava Gal-On called on Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to investigate the matter.
Gal-On asked Weinstein to investigate the nature of the reported relationship that Liberman including the possibility that the two had a business relationship.
Gal-On said her request was made in order to safeguard the integrity of elected officials and the government. Herb Keinon Khaled Abu Toameh and Reuters contributed to this report.