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Abbas clips Dahlan’s wings

The closure of Dahlan's satellite channel underscored the brewing dispute between Fatah's two leading figures, as President Abbas accuses Dahlan of insubordination

Saleh Naami in Gaza, Monday 6 Dec 2010
Abbas
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The decision by the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah yesterday to shut down the satellite channel, Tomorrow's Palestine, which is co-owned and overseen by Mohamed Dahlan, a member of Fatah's Central Committee, was yet another manifestation of severely deteriorating relations between Dahlan and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Although the director of the broadcast station, Elias Al-Zananiri, refused to comment to Ahram Online on the closure, he instead attributed it to "the legal steps".  A reporter at the channel, who asked to remain anonymous, said that this is part of ongoing enmity between Dahlan and Abbas.

This most recent action is the latest in a series initiated by Abbas against Dahlan, which thus far have included the reduction of police protection outside his home and the issuance of a decision to "purge" Dahlan's supporters from important posts within West Bank ministries and the security apparatus. What is more, Abbas formed a committee to investigate Dahlan's "insolence" towards him, headed by Abu Maher Ghoneim and including Azzam Ahmed and Othman Abu Ghreiba -- all members of Fatah's Central Committee.

Sources told Ahram Onlinethat the recent dispute erupted after Abbas received reports that Dahlan strongly criticised him and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad during Fatah meetings in the West Bank and Palestinian gatherings in the Arab world. Dahlan, according to these informed sources, was especially critical of Abbas's negotiating tactics with Israel, adding that Abbas was ready to make "very dangerous compromises".

Examples of these "compromising" statements appeared in Haaretz newspaper when Yasser Abed Rabbo, a close adviser to Abbas, was reported as saying that the PA was prepared to recognise the Jewish character of the state of Israel if a Palestinian state were to be established. Dahlan has condemned such statements as well as others made by Abbas in which the Palestinian president indicated his acquiescence to Israel's preferred self-description.

Abbas, as sources allege, was most irked by the fact that Dahlan was able to form a large camp among senior ranks in Fatah's Central Committee to direct and indirectly work against the Palestinian leader. This clique includes Tawfiq Al-Tiray, the former director of General Intelligence, former foreign minister Nasser Al-Qudwa, former governor of Nablus, Mohamed Al-Alul, and leader of Fatah in Lebanon Sultan Abu Enein. The move has also caught the interest of a large number of members of Fatah's Revolutionary Council.

The Palestinian presdient and his circle accuse Dahlan of challenging their authority by attempting to convince Al-Qudwa, the nephew of late President Yasser Arafat, to compete for the leaderships of Fatah and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), since he is presently more "competent" to lead the Palestinian people.

Dahlan's attempts to "blatantly" interfere in the affairs of Fayyad's government also drew bitter criticism from the president, according to Ahram Online sources who indicated that Dahlan attempted to manoeuvre a cabinet reshuffle. They allege Dahlan went as far as phoning several figures in Gaza to offer them possible ministerial posts in the new cabinet – Abbas and Fayyad had no knowledge of this at the time. Abbas cancelled the cabinet shuffle.

Sources assert that Abbas was able to secure the support of Egypt and Jordan in confronting Dahlan, and accordingly, the Egyptian authorities informed Dahlan that he is unwelcome in Egypt and will only be allowed passage through the country but not permission to stay. Meanwhile, the Jordanian authorities have subjected Dahlan to intrusive searches as he enters and exits Jordan.

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