Arafat orchestrates boycott of Abbas by commanders

Special to World
Friday, May 23, 2003

RAMALLAH Palestinian Authority security commanders have been ordered to boycott the new government of Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

Palestinian sources said PA police and security commanders have been ordered not to cooperate with Abbas, who serves as both prime minister and interior minister. The sources said the orders were relayed by PA Chairman Yasser Arafat through his national security adviser Hani Al Hassan, a former interior minister.

The boycott orders came during efforts by Security Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan to review the force level of the PA's 13 security forces. The sources said PA commanders were ordered not to relay any information or meet with Dahlan, an ally of Abbas.

Last week, Arafat foiled a directive by Abbas to transfer his authority as interior minister to Dahlan. Arafat recruited support from the PLO Central Council that such a move violated PLO directives on Abbas's new Cabinet.

The Interior Minstry has direct control over the Preventive Security Apparatus and the police. Arafat has control over the rest of the security forces.

On Wednesday, Abbas replaced 15 commanders in the PA civilian police. The dismissed commanders had served in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and were termed as Arafat loyalists.

Palestinian sources said Dahlan wants to replace additional commanders in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of a drive to reform the security services. They said Dahlan plans to recommend appointments for the Preventive Security Apparatus, which he commanded from 1994 until 2002.

For his part, Arafat's aides asserted that the PA chairman has become a target of Israel. Arafat's national security adviser, Hani Al Hassan, said Arafat's office received a parcel on May 1 that contained traces of anthrax. Al Hassan told Arab reporters that the letter arrived via Israel.

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