Tuesday, March 18, 2014

  • Tuesday, March 18, 2014
  • Elder of Ziyon
Internal divisions within Fatah, always simmering beneath the surface, came out in the open last week. From Al Monitor:

On March 5, most of the 77,000 Palestinian Authority (PA) employees located in Gaza received their February salaries, but about a hundred returned from their banks empty-handed. They weren’t paid because of an official decision by the PA against supporters of Mohammed Dahlan, a member of the Legislative Council and a dismissed leader from Fatah, who differs with the PA’s general policy. The decision to stop payment on the salaries has worsened the crisis between Dahlan and President Mahmoud Abbas.

The reactions to the decision came quickly. On March 8, those who didn’t receive their salaries held a sit-in in Gaza, which Al-Monitor attended, and strongly criticized the decision. They demanded that Abbas immediately reverse the decision in light of the difficult economic conditions in Gaza and threatened to set up a protest tent in front of the homes of Fatah’s higher leadership in Gaza.

Al-Monitor received a copy of the letter sent from the unpaid workers to Fatah. They said that they are not against Abbas and don’t follow a particular person, but that they support Dahlan’s idea of regulatory reform. They accused the Fatah leadership in the West Bank of marginalizing Gaza and its people at all organizational levels of the Central Committee and the Revolutionary Council.

Sufian Abu Ziyade, a high-level Fatah leader in Gaza and one of Dahlan’s most prominent allies, described the decision as a “heinous crime” committed against Fatah members, demanding that Abbas rescind the decision in his capacity as president of all the Palestinian people.

The toughest response came from Rashid Abu Shabak, the former commander of Preventive Security and Dahlan’s right arm, who called for taking up arms against the PA, a call that drew sharp criticism from Fatah as it may lead to bloodshed and will have serious repercussions that will complicate the problem further.

Al-Monitor learned from a Fatah figure from Gaza who currently lives in the West Bank that not paying salaries has caused a number of Dahlan supporters to leave Ramallah for fear of punishment from Abbas. The figure said that they went to Jordan, Dubai and other places abroad, and that their departure reflected a state of extreme tension between the two Fatah camps.
Then Abbas publicly accused Dahlan essentially of collaborating with Israel in assassinating his rivals:
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hinted that a former top Fatah official and several of his cohorts had assisted Israel against the Palestinians over a decade ago, igniting a storm among Palestinians.

Abbas’s hour-long laundry list of accusations, including the charge of spying, against former aide Mohammed Dahlan — delivered to a closed-door meeting of the Fatah Revolutionary Council Monday but released publicly on Wednesday — signaled that the battle over who will succeed the 79-year-old Palestinian president is heating up.

Abbas also claimed that complaints had been filed to the president’s office that Dahlan, a former security head for Fatah in Gaza, was mixed up in the Gaza assassination of Salah Shahadeh, the leader of Hamas’ military wing who killed by an Israeli airstrike in 2002.

In response, Dahlan and senior Hamas figures slammed Abbas and demanded that he open an inquiry into the issue.

Today, Dahlan's supporters seem to have hit back, as gunshots were reportedly fired at the home of Fatah's Jibril Rajoub in Ramallah.

At the same time, Fatah official Nabil Shaath claimed that Dahlan had destroyed Yasir Arafat's medicine bottles when he was flown to Paris for treatment. He also accused Dahlan of being behind other assassinations of Fatah officials, including Kamal Medhat in Beirut in 2009.

During yesterday's Fatah rallies, photos of Dahlan were burned.

For his part, Dahlan gave an interview to Egyptian TV where he accused Abbas of nepotism, hiring his nephew for a job to do nothing. He also implied that Abbas has taken over $1.4 billion for an investment fund that no one knows anything about. He added a litany of charges and implications, even saying that Arafat refused to meet with Abbas when he was sick.

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