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Monday, December 13, 2010     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Abbas foe calls Palestinian leadership ineffective

RAMALLAH — A dissident Fatah leader says the Palestinian Authority must improve its negotiations strategy toward Israel.


Fatah Central Committee member Mohammed Dahlan, a former security chief, acknowledged disagreement with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Dahlan, accused of trying to replace Abbas, said the PA leadership has not been effective in negotiations with Israel and the United States regarding the establishment of a Palestinian state.

"We need a comprehensive review of the entire internal political situation," Dahlan said.

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Dahlan granted a series of interviews this month to the Arab and Palestinian media in which he criticized Abbas. Dahlan said Abbas's warning to dismantle the PA unless Israel ends Jewish construction and agrees to a Palestinian state was "suicidal."

"This option is suicide and detrimental to the Palestinian people and must be discussed," Dahlan said. "There are 170,000 PA employees in the Palestinian Authority. Where will they go? There are 50-60,000 armed men in the West Bank. What will be their fate?"

Over the last month, Dahlan has come under attack from the PA amid accusations that he was engineering a coup against Abbas. Abbas has removed police protection from Dahlan's home in Ramallah, shut his satellite television station and purged loyalists from the PA security forces.

"There are those who seek to harm our relationship," Dahlan said of Abbas.

Dahlan acknowledged criticism of Abbas and the PA leadership regarding negotiations with Israel and the performance of the Ramallah government. He said Israel does not intend to establish a Palestinian state and urged massive protests against the Jewish state.

"Imagine if there were half a million Palestinian protesters along the barriers and effective without violence or the use of weapons," Dahlan said.

Dahlan said the PA's performance has been catastrophic and exhausted its efforts with Israel and the United States. But he said he was not blaming Abbas nor seeking to succeed him.

"My problem is that I speak frankly in meetings of the Palestinian leadership," Dahlan told the Saudi-owned daily Al Hayat on Dec. 7. "At the last meeting, I said the PA is no longer the authority. The Israeli occupation returned as it was in the past. We have the authority to provide services but not hold political power."

PA sources said Abbas has also accused Dahlan of secretly coordinating with Hamas. They said Dahlan was in contact with a range of Hamas leaders, including Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

Dahlan denied coordination with Hamas, but acknowledged his disagreement with Fatah efforts to reconcile with the Islamic opposition. He said Hamas, which captured the Gaza Strip in 2007, was not interested in reconciliation.

"Although I have reservations on reconciliation, I endorsed it as soon as Abu Mazen [Abbas] decided," Dahlan said. "The Palestinian political system cannot progress one step without the unity of Palestinian political groups."

The sources said the Fatah Central Committee has formed a panel to investigate Dahlan. They said Abbas has established another committee to examine allegations that Dahlan and others have stolen hundreds of millions of dollars in official funds. The PA Anti-Corruption Commission was said to be investigating more than 50 cases.

Dahlan has been touring the Middle East and meeting Arab as well as Fatah leaders in Lebanon. In November and December, Dahlan met Egyptian intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Omar Suleiman, Jordan's King Abdullah and leading Saudi princes.

"So far, I am the only one who is respected in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia," Dahlan said.

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