For second time this week, Abbas cuts funding to rival party
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For second time this week, Abbas cuts funding to rival party

The PA president and Fatah leader halts money to DFLP, days after similar move with PFLP; seen as bid to tighten grip on power

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

Palestinian supporters of Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) chant slogans during a demonstration against Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, in the West Bank city of Ramallah March 19, 2014. Photo By Issam Rimawi/Flash 90.
Palestinian supporters of Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) chant slogans during a demonstration against Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, in the West Bank city of Ramallah March 19, 2014. Photo By Issam Rimawi/Flash 90.

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine confirmed Thursday that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas froze allocations to the group.

In an official statement on its website, the DFLP said that its monthly allocation of money from the Palestinian National Fund was suspended by Abbas.

The group, the third-largest member faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, is a Marxist-Leninist, secular military organization that broke away from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1969.

The DFLP called on the PA president to reverse the “wrong decision,” saying that the Palestinian National Funds are not in the hands of one person, but rather the allocations should be decided by the entire Palestinian National Council.

Earlier in the week, Abbas froze funding to the PFLP, also a Marxist group and the second largest organization in the PLO.

Masked Palestinian gunmen of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in Gaza City during a rally on September 2, 2014, to celebrate the Egypt-mediated ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. (photo credit: AFP/Mahmud Hams)
Masked Palestinian gunmen of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in Gaza City during a rally on September 2, 2014, to celebrate the Egypt-mediated ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. (photo credit: AFP/Mahmud Hams)

Zulfikar Shiverjo, a member of the PFLP central committee, told pan-Arab news website al-Ain that the PA president was hitting back at the PFLP for its opposition to some of his policies, although he did not specify which ones.

The PFLP has been critical of Abbas and called for his resignation over the PA’s ongoing security coordination with Israel.

Hamas also condemned the decision to withhold the funds from the PFLP, calling it “political blackmail” in a statement on their website.

While both the PFLP and DFLP have committed attacks against Israelis in the past, the PFLP is still considered a terrorist organization by the United States, whereas the DFLP was taken off the US terror list in 1999.

Abbas’s moves against political rivals in the PLO follows his decision last week to establish a constitutional court, a move seen as an attempt to strengthen his rule and marginalize Hamas opposition.

The PA president’s Fatah party presented the move as a step toward creating a functioning state, while critics said Abbas has only appointed Fatah jurists to the court and is trying to consolidate his 13-year hold on power.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah on April 11, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah on April 11, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX)

“Neither the president, nor any of the leaders [of Fatah], has a private agenda regarding this issue,” said Osama al-Qawasmi, the spokesman for Fatah in the West Bank, according to Reuters. “The prime task of the constitutional court is to monitor laws. By the law, it is a completely independent body and we have full confidence in it.”

PA officials say the court will have supremacy over all the lower courts, cabinet decisions, parliament resolutions and presidential decrees, according to Palestinian media.

The rival Palestinian faction Hamas rejected the establishment of the court and said it will not recognize its authority.

“Hamas will not recognize the legitimacy of this court and whatever it produces, and we call on members of the constitutional court to resign. They are responsible for creating more division among Palestinians,” a Hamas statement read.

A recent poll of Palestinian public opinion found that 64 percent of the public wants Abbas to resign.

If elections were to take place, Abbas would lose to his Islamist political rival in Gaza, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, according to the poll, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.

While the government in the West Bank receives international support, the poll found that the perception of corruption in PA institutions stands at 79%.

Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report

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