356 Fatah members resign to protest Arafat corruption

Monday, February 9, 2004

RAMALLAH The ruling Fatah movement led by Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat has been rocked by a massive resignation.

Palestinian sources said Arafat believe Israel and the United States were behind the action.

More than 350 Fatah members have resigned from the movement over the weekend to protest the failure by Arafat to implement reforms. In a message to Arafat, they said the movement is in a "lamentable state" and that Arafat has rejected all efforts to launch measures for reform.

The Fatah members said the movement has not held elections since 1989, Middle East Newsline reported. The petition also named several senior operatives as corrupt.

"We, the sons of the Fatah movement, place in your hands our collective resignations from Fatah," a statement, signed by 356 Fatah members from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, said. "Fatah is beginning to disintegrate as a result of internal contradictions, Fatah is not united. Fatah has not asked the Palestinian Authority to punish those who have harmed the interests of the Palestinian peoples."

None of the Fatah members who resigned included senior members of the movement. But some of the members said senior Fatah figures were considering joining those who have resigned.

"It's slightly exaggerated," Palestinian Legislative Council member Khaddoura Fares said. "Of all the names, I recognize perhaps 10 of them. It could be that somebody just threw in names."

But another leading Fatah member said the petition threatens the movement with disarray and has resulted in tension among the leadership. The member said Fatah leaders believe the petition was encouraged by Israel and the United States.

[On Monday, the Fatah-dominated Ein Hilwe refugee camp in Lebanon was rocked by four explosions. There were no immediate reports of injuries in the early-morning blasts, said to have been part of a long-running feud between Fatah and Al Qaida-aligned elements in Ein Hilwe.]

Palestinian sources said Fatah members have been dismayed by the failure of Arafat to provide jobs and salaries to activists. They said the PA has stopped hiring Fatah members for the security services.

On Thursday, a key Arafat aide and PA police chief, Maj. Gen. Ghazi Jabali, was attacked in his office last week by officers from a rival security agency. Officers of the Preventive Security Apparatus burst into Jabali's office and opened fire. One person was killed and 10 were injured. The officers then dunked Jabali's head into a toilet.

"A group of lawless individuals of the lowest level tried to assassinate the founder of the Palestinian national police, sent by some parties that do not want security and peace for the homeland," a PA police statement said. "This was a flagrant attack on Palestinian legitimacy and in violation of all standards of our heroic people."

Palestinian sources said Jabali was the target of an assassination in 2002 by a group that claimed he was corrupt. The sources said Jabali has used his position as PA police chief to help shake down Gaza City merchants.

Jabali's biggest rivals were said to be elements in the PSA. The PSA, long led by former PA Security Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan, regarded Jabali as a rival in the lucrative black market in the Gaza Strip.

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