Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has accused one of his main rivals, Mohammed Dahlan, of involvement in six murders, and suggested that he was behind the death of former leader Yasser Arafat, reports The Jeruslaem Post. Dahlan denied the allegations.
Dahlan, who has long been a bitter rival of Abbas, used to be a powerful figure in Fatah, the PLO faction of both Arafat and Abbas. For many years, he was Arafat’s strongman in Gaza where he led the Preventive Security Force, which was frequently accused of torturing members of rival Hamas.
Dahlan was forced out of Fatah in 2011 under accusations of corruption. He currently lives in exile in the United Arab Emirates. Dahlan has a simmering rivalry with Fatah’s current leadership which frequently plays out in the Palestinian and social media. He continues to be an influential figure among Fatah members in Gaza.
Abbas made the Arafat-related accusations against Dahlan, who is generally regarded as a possible future Palestinian president, during a Fatah meeting earlier this week.
The PA leader claimed an investigation was carried out into Dahlan during the rule of former president Arafat. “It was found out that six people were killed by orders from Dahlan,” Abbas said.
Abbas said he did not have any direct proof that Dahlan was involved in the Arafat’s death, but he read out several statements in which Dahlan had allegedly criticized Arafat, hinting at Dahlan’s role in killing him.
“Who killed Yasser Arafat? This is not evidence, but indications that deserve consideration,” said Abbas. It was not clear how the accusations against Dahlan squared with the usual Fatah narrative that Arafat died after being poisoned by Israel.
Dahlan responded harshly on his Facebook page, saying Abbas’s speech was full of “lies … stupidity and ignorance of the Palestinian reality.” He added that he would also “unveil the lies” surrounding the death of Arafat, calling it “the most important and most dangerous issue of our modern history.”
Arab media has reported in recent months that Dahlan has met with leaders such as Egypt’s army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and has also made overtures for reconciliation with Hamas, the Islamist rulers of Gaza who have always viewed him with deep distrust.
In Febraury this year, Nabil Shaath, a member of the Abbas-supporting Fatah Central Committee, criticised Dahlan, accusing him of working on creating a schism in the movement. “Dahlan no longer belongs to Fatah, but he is still meddling in Fatah’s internal affairs together with some of his loyalists, who continue to say they are a part of Fatah.”