(photo credit: AP)
The Fatah Central Committee on Tuesday suspended the membership of Muhammad Dahlan, a former security commander in the Gaza Strip.
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The decision followed allegations that Dahlan plotted to overthrow Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Dahlan founded and headed the PA’s Preventive Security Service in the Gaza Strip after the signing of the Oslo Accords. The Fatah Central Committee, during a meeting in Ramallah, decided Dahlan could no longer attend committee meetings.
Dahlan, 49, has been mentioned as a potential successor to Abbas, 75.
The committee also decided to remove Dahlan from Fatah’s Information and Culture Commission.
The committee, which met under the chairmanship of Abbas, announced that Nabil Abu Rudaineh, long-time spokesman of the PA presidency, would become Fatah’s chief spokesman.
The new measures against Dahlan came after Abbas appointed a commission of inquiry to look into allegations that the former security chief had planned to topple the PA president.
The commission, headed by Abu Maher Ghnaim, a senior Fatah official living in Jordan, has also launched an investigation into the sources of Dahlan’s personal fortune.
So a Fatah official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post.
“Before the Oslo Accords, Muhammad Dahlan did not have any money,” said the official, who participated in Tuesday’s meeting. “Today, he’s considered one of the wealthiest Palestinians.”
In recent weeks, the PA security forces arrested scores of Dahlan loyalists in various parts of the West Bank. They also closed down a TV station in Ramallah that he owned.
Last month, the PA security forces stopped guarding Dahlan’s private residence in Ramallah and government institutions were instructed not to cooperate with him or any of his aides.
A source close to Abbas said that Dahlan had tried in recent years to establish “bases of power” in the West Bank by supplying many Fatah members with money and weapons. Dahlan also tried to “bribe” a large number of security officers in the West Bank, prompting Abbas to remove many of them from their posts, the source added.
Raids on the homes of many Dahlan loyalists in the West Bank led to the seizure of large caches of weapons, another source in Ramallah told the Post. “We have good reason to believe that Dahlan was preparing for a coup [against the PA president].”
Dahlan has denied the charges against him, arguing that he was the victim of a smear campaign launched by top Fatah officials closely associated with Abbas.
A source close to Dahlan said that the dispute between him and Abbas had been “blown out of proportion.”
The source said that Abbas turned against Dahlan after being told that the former security commander had been bad-mouthing his sons.
Dahlan, according to the source, accused Abbas’s sons of exploiting their father’s position to accumulate a fortune.
The sons, Tareq and Yasser, are wealthy businessmen.