(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian Authority security forces over the weekend arrested the director of the bureau of former Fatah security commander Mohammed Dahlan.
RELATED:Hamas arrested 3,120 Fatah loyalists in 2010Dahlan returning to West Bank to answer coup chargesPalestinian Affairs: Abbas’s biggest threat
Sources in Ramallah said that Mu’taz Khdeir, who has been working with Dahlan for the past few years, was arrested for “security reasons.”
The arrest is part of a massive crackdown on Dahlan loyalists in the West Bank. Dozens of Palestinians suspected of being affiliated with Dahlan have been arrested by PA security forces in recent weeks.
Palestinians said that the Dahlan affair marked the biggest challenge to Abbas’s authority since Hamas drove the PA out of the Gaza Strip in 2007.
Private TV and radio stations owned by Dahlan have also been closed down in the context of the clampdown.
Khdeir is the most senior Dahlan aide to be arrested by the PA. His arrest came as Dahlan, who has been in Egypt in the past few weeks, was scheduled to return to Ramallah to answer questions by a commission of inquiry.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas formed the commission to look into charges that Dahlan had been plotting to overthrow the PA government in the West Bank. The commission has also been entrusted with investigating the sources of Dahlan’s personal fortune.
The PA claims that its security forces have confiscated weapons that
were found in the possession of dozens of Dahlan loyalists in the West
Bank. The PA said it also seized large amounts of cash with many of
“This is a very serious case,” a PA official in Ramallah said on
Saturday. “Dahlan apparently tried to form an armed militia in the West
Bank with the goal of staging a coup against President Abbas.”
The official claimed that Dahlan was also suspected of trying to
establish a “new political leadership” in the West Bank. According to
the official, Dahlan succeeded in recent months to win the backing of a
number of top Fatah officials.
“Dahlan is not alone,” the official said. “We know that others members
of the Fatah Central Committee have joined forces with him to undermine
the Palestinian Authority. We believe that they received a lot of money
from outside sources.”
Another PA official told The Jerusalem Post that Dahlan’s alleged scheme
envisaged the establishment of a new Palestinian Authority. “Dahlan
tried to form an alternative government, apparently with the backing of
some Americans and Europeans,” the official charged. “We are determined
to destroy Dahlan’s empire in the West Bank.”
Dahlan’s aides insist that the dispute between him and Abbas is only
personal. Dahlan has strongly denied charges that he had plans to stage a
coup against Abbas.
One of Dahlan’s aides told the Post that the dispute began when someone
reported to Abbas that Dahlan had been bad-mouthing him and his sons.
Dahlan was apparently secretly recorded as telling Fatah supporters in
Jenin that all what Abbas cared about were the businesses of his sons,
Yasser and Tareq.
“Abbas travels around the world to seek new opportunities for the
businesses of his sons,” Dahlan was reportedly quoted as saying in the
In another meeting with Fatah supporters, Dahlan is believed to have
mocked at Abbas, saying he was unfit to lead the Palestinian people.
Dahlan is also believed to have boasted: “I’m the one who made Mahmoud
Abbas. Without me he would have never been president.”
Dahlan served as Security Minister in the government that was headed by
Abbas in 2003 and the two men were considered for some time close
Last week the Fatah Central Committee decided to suspend Dahlan’s
membership and remove him from his post as the faction’s “Minister of
Information.” Earlier, the PA decided to remove policemen who had been
assigned to guard Dahlan’s private residence in Ramallah.