Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s arch rival, the exiled Mohammed Dahlan, has been granted Serbian citizenship, AFP reported on Friday, citing the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN).
"Dahlan, his wife and four children, a nephew and five key political supporters were all granted citizenship between February 2013 and June 2014," BIRN said.
The news portal provided a link to a page from the government gazette of December 11, 2013, in which the decision to grant Dahlan citizenship was published.
The decision, signed by then prime minister Ivica Dacic, went unnoticed until reported by BIRN.
"Dahlan is credited with facilitating Abu Dhabi's promised investment of billions of euros in Serbia," BIRN said, referring to pledges of financing from the United Arab Emirates, where Dahlan currently resides, including a multi-billion-euro plan to redevelop Belgrade's waterfront.
The government in Belgrade refused to confirm a link between the passports given to 12 Palestinian Arab, all linked to Dahlan, and the Gulf country's planned investments, the report said.
Contacted by AFP, a Serbian government spokesman declined comment.
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.
The longtime rivalry between Dahlan and Abbas has resurfaced as Dahlan is considering to run against Abbas in future elections.
Abbas accused Dahlan of collaborating with Israel to assassinate a senior Hamas terrorist in 2002. Dahlan then hit back, branding Abbas a “catastrophe” in an interview with an Egyptian television network.
Last May, Dahlan was sentenced in absentia by a Ramallah court to two years in prison, after being convicted of defamation and slander because he alleged in an interview that PA security forces were helping protecting Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria.
Dahlan recently made headlines again when reports surfaced that a senior Israeli minister met with Dahlan in Paris. The meeting reportedly took place without the approval of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)