(photo credit: AP [file])
Rashid Abu Shabak, the top Fatah security chief in the Gaza Strip, has submitted his resignation to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, PA officials said over the weekend.
The resignation of Abu Shabak, who has played a key role in security since the establishment of the PA, was seen as a blow to Abbas and his Fatah faction.
Abu Shabak's resignation came two weeks after Hamas militiamen raided his villa and killed six of his bodyguards in Gaza City. He has since not been seen in the Gaza Strip.
Sources close to Abu Shabak told The Jerusalem Post that his decision to quit came because he felt that Abbas and Fatah had not given him sufficient backing in the power struggle against Hamas.
Hamas recently accused Abu Shabak of thwarting a security plan drawn by former PA Interior Minister Hani Kawassmeh.
Kawassmeh resigned from the Hamas-led unity government earlier this month, accusing Abu Shabak and Abbas of robbing him from his powers and foiling his plan to impose law and order in the Gaza Strip.
A former prisoner in Israel, Abu Shabak was appointed in 1994 as Muhammed Dahlan's deputy when the latter served as head of the Preventative Security Service. His alliance with Dahlan turned him into a major foe of Hamas, whose representatives have repeatedly accused the two of "conspiring" with the US and Israel to bring down the Hamas-led government.
According to a PA official in Ramallah, Hamas has proposed to Abbas to appoint former security commander Jibril Rajoub to Abu Shabak's job.
In another development, a top Fatah delegation headed to Cairo over the weekend for talks with Egyptian officials on ways of solidifying the latest cease-fire between Fatah and Hamas.
Abdel Hakim Awad, a member of the Fatah delegation, said he and his colleagues will hold talks with Egyptian Intelligence Chief Gen. Omar Suleiman. He said representatives of other Palestinian factions, including Hamas, had also been invited to Cairo to discuss the same issue.
"The Egyptians will first hold separate meetings with the faction heads," he said.
"At a later stage, all the faction leaders will meet to discuss ways of avoiding internal strife and ending the Hamas-Fatah rivalry."
The Fatah delegation is comprised of Ruhi Fatouh, a senior aid to Abbas, Deputy Prime Minister Azzam al-Ahmed and top Fatah operatives Samir Mashharawi and Abu Maher al-Hils. Dahlan is expected to join the talks in Cairo at a later stage.