Abbas Accuses Political Rival of Killing Senior Hamas Terrorist
Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is accusing his long-time political rival, Mohammed Dahlan, of conspiring with Israel in the 2002 elimination of a senior Hamas figure.
Abbas, who spoke to his Fatah party's revolutionary council in Ramallah Wednesday, also hinted that Dahlan had something to do with the death of former PA leader Yasser Arafat.
Referring to Israel's 2002 elimination of Hamas leader Salah Shehade, Abbas said, according to the Turkish Anadolu news agency, that Dahlan had told him moments before an attempt on Shehade's life that the latter would be eliminated "within minutes."
"Soon after, we heard a huge explosion. Dahlan went out and then told me, 'That lucky…had left his home a moment before," Abbas claimed.
Shehade was later killed in an Israeli airstrike on a Gaza residential building in July 2002. The attack also killed 17 others, including eight children.
Abbas did not stop there, and continued to accuse his rival of having something to with Arafat’s death, repeating similar accusations he made in 2011.
According to Reuters, Abbas claimed that an investigation was carried out into Dahlan during Arafat’s rule, but admitted he did not have any proof that Dahlan was involved in Arafat’s death.
The PA Chairman read out several statements in which his Dahlan had allegedly criticized Arafat.
"Who killed Yasser Arafat? This is not evidence, but indications that deserve consideration," said Abbas, according to Reuters.
A former security chief in Gaza under Fatah, Dahlan was ousted from the party in 2011 and fled to Dubai. His home in Ramallah was later raided by PA security forces.
Fatah's Central Committee said at the time that he was expelled for harming “Palestinian national interests” and coercing outside parties to commit crimes over a number of years.
In the past, Dahlan was also accused by PA officials of sending Israeli arms to former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.
Most recently, Dahlan made headlines again when the Ma’ariv newspaper claimed that Israel was carrying out secret talks with him, in preparation for a scenario in which Abbas steps down because he will refuse to sign an American negotiation framework.
Dahlan denied those reports, as he similarly denied Abbas’s latest remarks. In a post on his Facebook page quoted by Reuters, he said 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".
Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman Salah Bardawil called for a "comprehensive investigation" into the issue of Dahlan’s alleged involvement in Shehade's death.
"Abbas' assertions…are very serious accusations and require a comprehensive probe," Bardawil said, according to Anadolu.