Did Mohammed Dahlan help orchestrate Israel-UAE deal?

Dahlan has also been accused of playing a major role in the 2013 coup in Egypt that overthrew president Mohammed Morsi.

MOHAMMED DAHLAN, a former Fatah security chief, gestures in his office in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, last year. (photo credit: REUTERS)
MOHAMMED DAHLAN, a former Fatah security chief, gestures in his office in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, last year.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Will last week’s agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates relations pave the way for the return of deposed Fatah operative Mohammed Dahlan to the Palestinian political arena?
And did Dahlan, who reportedly serves as a special adviser to UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, help broker the deal between Abu Dhabi and Jerusalem?
Palestinian officials in Ramallah on Sunday said they had no doubt that Dahlan, 58, played a major role in convincing bin Zayed to strike the deal with Israel. Dahlan may use the deal to return to the Palestinian political stage and improve his chances of succeeding PA President Mahmoud Abbas, the officials said.
Born in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, Dahlan helped establish the Fatah Youth Movement in the Gaza Strip in the early 1980s. He was later arrested by the IDF and spent several years in Israeli prison for his involvement in security-related offenses.
After the signing of the Oslo Accord in 1993, Dahlan was appointed as the first commander of the PA Preventive Security Force in the Gaza Strip.
In July 2007, Dahlan resigned from his post as national security adviser to Abbas after Hamas violently seized control of the Gaza Strip. Many Fatah leaders hold him responsible for the quick collapse of the PA security forces in the Gaza Strip.
Dahlan moved to the West Bank, where he began establishing power bases, especially among Fatah cadres in several refugee camps, much to the dismay of Abbas and other senior Fatah officials.
In 2011, he was expelled from Fatah after falling out with Abbas and his two sons. PA security forces raided his home in Ramallah, confiscated documents and arrested some of his private guards and assistants.
After the raid, Dahlan moved to the UAE, where he continues to serve as a special adviser to the ruling family, specifically bin Zayed, according to various reports.
Abbas and several Palestinian officials have repeatedly accused Dahlan of financial and administrative corruption and conspiring to overthrow the PA leadership in the West Bank.
In 2016, the Palestinian Anti-corruption Crimes Court sentenced Dahlan in absentia to three years in prison after convicting him of embezzling $16 million. The court also fined him $16m.
Some Fatah leaders also had accused Dahlan of “poisoning” former PLO leader Yasser Arafat and involvement in a number of murder cases. Dahlan has strongly denied all the allegations and accused Abbas of seeking to silence him and other Palestinian critics.
Dahlan played a role in engineering the UAE-Israel deal, according to Nabil Sha’ath, a senior Fatah official and special adviser to Abbas.
“Dahlan has previously acted against the interests of his people and homeland,” he told the Khaleej Online website. “He also played a role in the UAE-Israel deal, and he should be ashamed of himself.”
Asked if the PA would ask Interpol to extradite the disgraced Fatah official, Sha’ath said he does not believe this would be possible because of Dahlan’s official position in the UAE.
Dahlan, who currently heads a group called Democratic Reform Current, is one of the few Palestinians who have come out in support of the UAE-Israel deal.
“We recall the historical role of the United Arab Emirates in supporting the steadfastness of our people in their struggle for freedom and independence,” he said in a statement. “The UAE will use its efforts to directly pressure the American administration and others to end the [Israeli] annexation plan completely and replace [US President Donald] Trump’s settlement plan with decisions of international legitimacy and the [2002] Arab Peace Initiative.”
Dahlan’s position stands in sharp contrast to that of the PA and Fatah, whose leaders have vehemently condemned the UAE-Israel deal, dubbing it a “betrayal of al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem and the Palestinian issue” and a “stab in the back of the Palestinian people.” At a number of protests in the West Bank over the past few days, demonstrators burned pictures of Dahlan together with those of bin Zayed.
Jibril Rajoub, a senior Fatah official and erstwhile ally of Dahlan, said he, too, was convinced that the controversial deposed Fatah operative had helped engineer the UAE-Israel accord. If and when Dahlan returns to the West Bank, he would be brought to trial for the many cases of corruption against him, Rajoub said.
Referring to the possibility that the UAE and other countries may support Dahlan in his bid to replace Abbas, Rajoub, who previously headed the Preventive Security Force in the West Bank, said: “No one can impose anyone on us. The ballot boxes are the only way for Palestinians to present their candidacy.”
Some Palestinians said Abbas was “disturbed” by reports claiming that a number of Arab countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan have been supporting Dahlan in his effort to topple the PA.
“President Abbas believes that a number of Arab countries are supporting Dahlan in his campaign to become the next Palestinian president,” said a senior Fatah official in Ramallah. “Under the current circumstances, however, it’s hard to see how these Arab countries would be able to appoint Dahlan as the next president. I’m also not sure that Dahlan has enough support among Fatah institutions for such a move.”
Over the past few years, Dahlan’s name has been linked to a number of events in the international arena. Last year, the Turkish government placed a $700,000 bounty on Dahlan after accusing him of being part of the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused the UAE of harboring a terrorist. “There is a terrorist called Dahlan, and he is spying for Israel,” he said. “That is why he fled from the country.” He also accused the UAE of trying to replace Abbas with Dahlan.
In 2018, the news outlet Buzzfeed claimed that Dahlan worked with a Hungarian Jewish veteran of the French Foreign Legion to hire American retired special forces turned mercenaries to assassinate Yemini politicians at the behest of the UAE.
In addition, Dahlan has also been accused of playing a major role in the 2013 coup in Egypt that overthrew president Mohammed Morsi.
“Dahlan is a paid UAE agent, and he will never be accepted by the majority of the Palestinians,” said a member of the PLO Executive Committee. “This man has caused huge damage to the Palestinian people and their cause, mainly because of his meddling in the internal affairs of Arab and Islamic states. Those who think he has a chance of replacing Abbas are engaged in self-deception.”