PA arrests supporters of Dahlan in West bank crackdown

The arrests were carried out in the West Bank and included Haytham al-Halabi and Salim Abu Safia, both senior members of Mohammed Dahlan’s faction.
Tuesday 22/09/2020
A 2011 file photo shows Mohammed Dahlan speaking during an interview in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AP)
A 2011 file photo shows Mohammed Dahlan speaking during an interview in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AP)

RAMALLAH - Palestinian security forces have detained dozens of supporters of Mohammed Dahlan, a former senior Palestinian official who left the West Bank in 2010 after a falling out with Abbas.

Dahlan’s political movement said in a statement that dozens of its members have been detained or summoned for questioning by Palestinian security forces in the West Bank in recent days, calling it a “stark violation of the law.”

The arrests were carried out in the West Bank and included Haytham al-Halabi and Salim Abu Safia, both senior members of Dahlan’s faction, a statement from the group said.

“This is an attempt by Abu Mazen to distract from his diplomatic failures, from the normalization deals with Israel,” Dimitri Diliani, a spokesperson for the Democratic Reformist Current said referring to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas by his nom de guerre. “This is an attempt to hide the fact that the Dahlanists have now become a large faction within Fatah.”

A controversy erupted last week after the Israeli daily Israel Hayom quoted US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman as saying he was “considering” putting Dahlan at the helm of the Palestinian authority. In a correction, the right-wing paper changed Friedman’s quote to: “We are not looking to engineer the Palestinian leadership.”

Dahlan said the speculation is untrue. “None has yet been born who can impose his will upon us,” he said. Popular elections should reflect the choice of the Palestinians, he added.

Dahlan, a former security chief in Gaza, has long been seen as a potential successor to the 84-year-old Abbas. In exile, Dahlan has cultivated close ties with Egypt and the UAE, where he is based.

His forces battled the Islamic militant group Hamas in the months before it seized power in Gaza in 2007, but in recent years he has worked with them to provide aid to the territory, which has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since the takeover.

He has denied having any political aspirations, but the aid has helped him to develop a small base of support in Gaza.

Abbas has seen his popularity drop in recent years as he has failed to end the Israeli occupation, the blockade of Gaza or the internal political split with Hamas. His Palestinian Authority is widely seen as corrupt and dysfunctional. The Palestinians have not held elections since the split with Hamas, and Abbas has not named a successor.