Former Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan has been banned from the faction’s meetings and is facing an internal investigation.
Scores of Dahlan’s followers have been arrested by Palestinian Authority security forces in Judea Samaria, and government institutions have been instructed not to cooperate with him, according to international Arab news reporter Khaled Abu Toameh.
Last month PA security forces were ordered to stop guarding Dahlan’s private residence in Ramallah.
Dahlan, who after the signing of the Oslo Accords founded and for years served as head of the PA’s Preventive Security Service in Gaza, was once considered a potential successor to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
The 49-year-old Fatah leader was elected to the faction’s Central Committee during its August 2009 conference after having bounced back following the humiliating defeat of his forces in Gaza militia's civil war with rival Hamas terrorists in June 2007. He is now being investigated by a commission of inquiry, over suspicion that Dahlan is trying to topple the PA leadership, starting with Abbas. In addition, the probe is focusing on the source of Dahlan’s personal wealth.
According to a statement released to the WAFA news agency, the Fatah Central Committee decided “unanimously to suspend Mohammed Dahlan from its meetings until the Commission of Inquiry completes its work.” The Committee also removed Dahlan from the faction’s Information and Culture Commission.
Nabil Abu Rudaineh, top aide to Abbas and his primary spokesman, was appointed to become Fatah’s chief spokesman as well.
The AFP news service quoted an unnamed committee member who said Dahlan was accused of “subversion against… [Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud] Abbas and members of the committee” and of having called them “incompetent.”
The committee member said Dahlan had been notified of the charges, and the committee heard his testimony.
Dahlan’s office in Ramallah declined to comment, according to AFP, which reported that he is abroad, as he has often been in the past several months.
Dahlan has been in the crosshairs of the PA leadership for months after having spoken against Abbas’s sons, Tareq and Yasser, themselves wealthy businessmen. In addition, he had criticized Abbas, at one point allegedly calling for his replacement.
Last month Israel downgraded Dahlan’s diplomatic status, removing the permit that allowed him to drive his car to Jordan through the Allenby Crossing. Dahlan was not the only one who lost his privileges, however: former PA chief negotiator and Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia also was downgraded after criticizing Israel’s policies in the PA territories and threatening violence if talks collapsed.