Muhammad Dahlan
Muhammad DahlanIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Former Fatah strongman Mohammad Dahlan on Wednesday was summoned to appear before the Palestinian Authority anti-corruption commission.

Fatah official and Palestinian Legislative Council member Najat Abu Bakr, said told Gulf News on Tuesday, "it is time for the Palestinian judicial system to say its word in the controversial issue of Dahlan."

"Should Fatah or Hamas have any official documents or solid evidence against Dahlan, let them indict him at court," she said.

"It is impossible for Dahlan, who faces serious corruption and murder charges, to remain at large and without a trial for such a long time," she said. "What are we waiting for to put him on trial?"

The move comes just days after Dahlan's assets were frozen by officials in Jordan at the PA anti-corruption commission’s behest.

However, Dahlan still has parliamentary immunity and is not required to obey the summons unless a formal indictment is handed down.

According to Abu Bakr, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas has not revoked Dahlan's parliamentary immunity so far - but has the power to do so.

Other sources at the PLC, however, told Gulf News that Abbas cannot sack Dahlan from the PLC and that only a unanimous decision of the PA legislature can remove Dahlan's immunity. The sources said Dahlan's immunity will be discussed by the PLC in early February.

Critics say Dahlan – known for his regular dealings with CIA and Israeli intelligence officials – was seen as a serious contender to replace Abbas and that the corruption charges against him may just be the latest attack by the chairman's supporters on a rival for power.

In December 2010, Dahlan was suspended (but not ejected) from the PLC, which announced it had set up a commission of inquiry to examine claims he tried to set up a personal militia.

Dahlan was then voted out of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, the party's governing body, in June 2011, after publicly criticizing chairman Mahmoud Abbas' unilateral tack at the United Nations.

According to Fatah he was voted out due to suspicion of having committed unspecified "criminal acts."

Observers note that Abbas, repeatedly accused of corruption over the years, has not been probed by the PA anti-corruption commission.