PA commission of inquiry: Dahlan helped poison Arafat

Ousted Fatah official asked a security officer to burn former Palestinian leader’s medicine bottle, report claims.

Dahlan 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Dahlan 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A Palestinian commission of inquiry has concluded that ousted Fatah Central Committee member Muhammad Dahlan was involved in the “poisoning” of former Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat.
The commission’s report was published on Sunday by a number of Arab news websites, including al-Jazeera.
RELATED:Abbas ‘feels he’s above the law,’ charges DahlanDozens in Fatah threaten to quit over Dahlan ousterAccording to the 118-page report, which was prepared by top Fatah officials Azzam al- Ahmed, Tayeb Abdel Rahim, Othman Abu Gharbiyyeh and Nabil Sha’ath, the deposed Fatah official was involved in sending poisoned medicine to Arafat before the latter’s death.
If true, this would be the first time the Palestinian leadership accuses a Palestinian of being behind the “assassination” of Arafat.
Until now the PA and other Palestinians had held Israel fully responsible for the mysterious death of Arafat of an unknown disease in November 2004.
PA officials in Ramallah would neither confirm nor deny the report.
However, The Jerusalem Post was told that a senior aide to Abbas had leaked the report to al-Jazeera.
The commission of inquiry was set up to look into allegations that Dahlan had plotted to stage a coup against PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
At the request of Abbas, the Fatah Central Committee has expelled Dahlan.
Dahlan, who has denied the charges, returned to Ramallah late last month to appeal against the decision to expel him from Fatah.
A few days after he arrived in Ramallah, PA security forces raided his villa, detained his bodyguards and confiscated their weapons and vehicles.
Dahlan was nevertheless permitted to leave to Jordan without being harassed. But a number of his top aides have since been arrested by various branches of the PA security forces in the West Bank.
Dahlan’s associates maintain that the dispute with Abbas erupted only after the former demanded an inquiry into the fate of $1.3 billion that was deposited in the account of the Palestinian Investment Fund.
They claim that most of the money has gone missing ever since Abbas succeeded Arafat in January 2005.
According to Dahlan’s supporters, Abbas also holds a grudge against him because he had been bad-mouthing the PA president’s wealthy sons.
The report, which also appeared on other Arab media web sites, claims that while Arafat was hospitalized at a French military hospital, Dahlan approached a senior PA security officer and asked him to burn the bottles of medicine that Arafat had been using.
The report also claims that a number of Arafat’s associates had supported this allegation during questioning.
The Fatah report goes on to accuse Dahlan of standing behind a string of assassinations of senior Palestinian officials, including Hisham Mekki, chairman of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation and top Fatah operatives Kamal Midhat and Hussein Abu Ajweh.
The commission said that Dahlan had also been questioned about his personal fortune and bank accounts under his name in Switzerland.
The commission’s report also accused Dahlan of conspiring to recruit civil servants and security officers to his camp and planting espionage devices in a number of government and security installations.
Dahlan was also accused of plotting to stage a “military coup” in the West Bank against Abbas and purchasing weapons from Israeli-Arab arms dealers.
In response to the publication of the report, Arafat’s relatives in the Gaza Strip issued a statement in which they strongly condemned the charges against Dahlan.
The statement also cautioned the media against publishing lies related to the death of Arafat and said that such reports were unprofessional and immoral and were designed to harm Arafat’s image and reputation.
Samir Mashharawi, a top Fatah operative from the Gaza Strip and longtime friend of Dahlan, said on Sunday that the dispute between Dahlan and Abbas was “personal.”
Mashharawi said he personally asked Abbas about the dispute and the PA president admitted to him that this was the case.
Mashharawi quoted Abbas as saying: “Your friend [Dahlan] has a long tongue and has been bad-mouthing me and my sons. He [Dahlan] has been saying that I handed the Gaza Strip over to Hamas and that I have neglected the Gaza Strip in the past four years.”
The Fatah leader said Abbas had initiated the fight with Dahlan to distract attention from his failed policies. “Abbas wants to run away from five years of failure in running the Palestinian Authority and the political portfolio,” he charged.
Mashharawi claimed that the raid on Dahlan’s villa in Ramallah was aimed at liquidating the latter.
“They wanted to initiate an armed clash with Dahlan’s men so that the police could open fire,” he said. “The goal was to kill Dahlan and then announce that he was part of a conspiracy to overthrow the Palestinian president. Fortunately, Dahlan remained very clam during the raid and did not intervene even when they searched his bedroom in a provocative manner.”