Dozens in Fatah threaten to quit over Dahlan ouster

Fatah representatives warn that Abbas-Dahlan dispute could lead to split in faction; Dahlan remains popular among Fatah supporters in Gaza.

Dahlan 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Dahlan 311
(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 faction.
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.
Fatah 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.
One 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 Dahlan.
“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.”
Several 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 immunity.
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 president.
Abbas has accused Dahlan of plotting to undermine him.
Dahlan says that the dispute erupted only after he began talking about the involvement of Abbas’s sons in economic projects in the Palestinian territories.
“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 questions.”
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 said.
“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.