(photo credit: REUTERS)
Dozens of Fatah members on Monday threatened to quit in protest against the
decision to expel former security commander Muhammad Dahlan from the ruling
The Fatah Central Committee, at the request of Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (who also heads Fatah), decided over the
weekend to expel Dahlan and recommended that he be charged with corruption and
other criminal offenses.
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Dahlan’s expulsion is seen as a victory for
Abbas and old guard Fatah leaders.
The move is also seen as a severe blow
to Fatah supporters in the Gaza Strip, where Dahlan remains a popular figure and
is regarded by some as a potential successor to Abbas.
representatives warned that the Abbas-Dahlan dispute could lead to a split in
the faction. They said that many Fatah activists in the Gaza Strip were
threatening to quit in protest against the dismissal of Dahlan.
activist said that at least 30 Fatah members have already expressed their
intention to quit. He pointed out that six members of the Fatah Central
Committee did not vote in favor of the recommendation to expel
“If Dahlan is forced out of Fatah, it will be the end of the
party,” the activist said.
“Dahlan is the victim of a conspiracy
concocted by a small group of Fatah leaders who work with Abbas.”
Fatah legislators in the Gaza Strip expressed outrage over the removal of
Dahlan. They said that the decision was a flagrant violation of the PA’s Basic
Law because Dahlan is an elected member of parliament and as such enjoys
Salah Abu Khatlah, a top Fatah official in Gaza, condemned the
decision as disgraceful.
He said the move against Dahlan was also
directed against all Fatah supporters in the Strip.
“The decision shows
that the [Fatah] Central Committee can’t be trusted with managing the affairs of
the party,” Abu Khatlah said. “It’s also harmful to Fatah’s history and culture
and the sacrifices of our martyrs and prisoners.”
Dahlan, in a first
response, denounced the decision as “illegal” and accused Abbas and his rivals
of acting as “thugs.”
Dahlan accused Abbas of acting like a dictator by
taking decisions alone and preventing him from replying to the charges against
him before a commission of inquiry that was established by the PA
Abbas has accused Dahlan of plotting to undermine
Dahlan says that the dispute erupted only after he began talking
about the involvement of Abbas’s sons in economic projects in the Palestinian
“If Abbas feels that he can’t cope with responsibility, he
should retire,” Dahlan said.
“There are many other leading figures in
Fatah who could do the job more effectively.”
He also accused Abbas of
acting out of self-interest. “Abbas does not tolerate different opinions or
criticism,” he said.
“He doesn’t want anyone to ask
Maher Miqdad, another top Fatah official, described the move
against Dahlan as a “humiliation for all Fatah members.” He said that instead of
solving Fatah’s problems, the central committee was deepening the crisis in the
faction. “This is not the way to remove Dahlan from the political scene,” he
“Don’t make us believe rumors about a suspicious deal with Hamas to
get rid of Dahlan.”
Dahlan was chosen to head the PA’s Preventive
Security Service in Gaza after the signing of the Oslo Accords. He built up a
force of 20,000 men.
His forces were accused of torturing Hamas detainees
throughout the 1990s, allegations Dahlan denies. During this period Gaza was
nicknamed “Dahlanistan” due to his power.
In June 2007, Hamas drove
Dahlan, then-head of the Palestinian National Security Council, out of Gaza
along with the rest of the Strip’s Fatah leaders.