Forget conspiracy theories that Israel killed Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat in 2004. The PA’s current president, Mahmoud Abbas, has his own theory: it was Arafat’s own security chief, Mohammed Dahlan, who is now trying to challenge Abbas for the presidency. Abbas has been president of the PA for nine years, though he has far exceeded the length of his term and there have not been new elections since his first win.
Abbas made the accusations against Dahlan in a cabinet meeting, according to the Jerusalem Post, and his remarks were leaked–probably deliberately.
“Abbas said he did not have any proof that Dahlan was involved, but he read out several statements in which his 52-year-old rival had allegedly criticized Arafat. ‘Who killed Yasser Arafat? This is not evidence, but indications that deserve consideration,’ said Abbas,” the Post notes.
The Abbas-Dahlan split within the “moderate” Fatah movement is only one of several splits within Palestinian politics. In the Gaza Strip, the Hamas terrorist group is facing a new challenge from Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which was the likely destination for a shipment of advanced weapons that Israel seized in the Red Sea last week, and which launched dozens of rockets against civilian targets in southern Israel earlier this week.
In a conference call with journalists Thursday, noted Middle East expert Dr. Efraim Karsh said that there was not yet a “civil war” between Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Hamas can still “impose its authority on the Gaza Strip,” Karsh said in response to a question from Breitbart News, and “doesn’t have an interest in escalation.” However, the rivalry is real.
Dahlan denies any role in Arafat’s death, attributed at the time to natural causes.