Associates of Abbas rival Mohammad Dahlan said arrested in West Bank

Several members of a breakaway Fatah movement associated with former Fatah security chief Mohammad Dahlan were arrested in the West Bank on Monday by Palestinian Authority security forces, their faction says in a statement.

General Salim Safiyya and Fatah Revolutionary Council member Haytham al-Halabi were arrested, along with “several of their comrades,” according to Dahlan’s Democratic Reformist Current. The PA security services did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

PA officials have publicly charged that Dahlan was involved in recent decisions by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to establish open ties with Israel. Dahlan has lived in Abu Dhabi since fleeing the West Bank in 2011 and is known to be close with Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed.

Mohammad Dahlan in 2006 (Michal Fattal/Flash90)

Although Dahlan has little support in surveys conducted in the West Bank and Gaza, he is widely seen as a possible contender to replace aging Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and is considered a political rival of the PA leader.

Last week, the Israel Hayom newspaper wrongly printed that US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said he was “considering” placing Dahlan in charge of the Palestinian leadership. It later corrected Friedman’s statement to: “We are not looking to engineer the Palestinian leadership.”

Palestinian officials from across the political spectrum ignored the correction and issued numerous condemnations of the statement originally attributed to Friedman. Dahlan released a statement denying any involvement: “None has yet been born who can impose his will upon us [the Palestinians].”

— Aaron Boxerman

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