Palestinian forces entered the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday, and removed three lawmakers who had sought refuge there.
MPs Shami Shami, Najat Abu Bakr and Jamal Tirawi, who along with Nasser Juma are all allies of Mohammad Dahlan, the former Gaza strongman who was ousted from Fatah by Abbas in 2010, were holed up in the International Red Cross offices, where they appealed for protection by the international community.
Last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas lifted the parliamentary immunity of five PA lawmakers, as he readied to level charges against them, sources in Abbas’s office and the Palestinian parliament said.
Arabic media reported that initially the parliamentarians were denied entry to the Palestinian legislature. They then went to the Red Cross building seeking international protection. A few hours later, Palestinian security forces entered the building, bringing out the lawmakers.
Out of respect to the Red Cross, the troops went in unarmed and removed the three peacefully, the report said.
Sources affiliated with Fatah claim that the three were staging a sit-in to protest having their immunity stripped from them. Abu Bakr claimed that they had been prevented from speaking to the media, human rights organizations or lawyers.
The parliamentarians have not yet been charged and were released after leaving the building. However they will soon face charges of embezzlement, weapons smuggling, defamation and insults, according to the sources, who spoke to AFP last week on condition of anonymity.
According to one source, “The whole issue related to existing conflicts” between Abbas and Dahlan.
Dahlan, who was one of Fatah’s most prominent leaders, was kicked out of the Gaza Strip in 2011 after a feud with Abbas. He currently lives in the UAE.
Last week, a Palestinian court sentenced the exiled Dahlan to three years in prison for allegedly embezzling $16 million as a cabinet minister, an official said.
Earlier in November, the Palestinian Constitutional Court, a body set up a few months earlier by Abbas himself, issued a decision confirming the right of the PA president to lift the parliamentary immunity of lawmakers in the Palestinian Legislative Council.
AFP contributed to this report.