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Report: Egypt, Jordan, UAE preparing for Dahlan to replace Abbas

Palestinian, Jordanian sources say the countries are pushing for Fatah’s former Gaza strongman to make gradual return to political life

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, right, and Mohammad Dahlan, left, leave a news conference in Egypt, in February 2007. (AP/Amr Nabil)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, right, and Mohammad Dahlan, left, leave a news conference in Egypt, in February 2007. (AP/Amr Nabil)

Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates are preparing for the ascent of the Fatah movement’s former Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan as next head of the Palestinian Authority, according to the Middle East Eye website.

Dahlan, the 54-year-old former head of the PA security forces in Gaza, has been living in the Gulf since he left the Palestinian territories several years ago. Dahlan has for many years been a bitter rival of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, 81, who in 2011 accused of him murdering late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Dahlan fell from grace in June 2007, when Hamas drove Fatah from Gaza after days of fierce street battles, and in June 2011 he was expelled from Fatah’s ruling body and lost his parliamentary immunity, following the allegations of financial corruption and murder. He was tried by the PA on corruption charges in 2014 in absentia, after he failed to show up for the trial.

The Middle East Eye said that it received information on the Egyptian-Jordanian-Emirati plan from separate Palestinian and Jordanian sources. There was no official confirmation of the claims.

According to the report, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed is one of the prime movers of the plan. Zayed reportedly informed Jordan that differences in the Jordanian and UAE attitudes toward Abbas were affecting bilateral relations. The Emiratis at one point sought Abbas’s arrest as well as a ban on him entering Jordan or using Jordan as a departure point for foreign travel.

In this January 3, 2011 photo, Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AP/Majdi Mohammed)
In this January 3, 2011 photo, Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AP/Majdi Mohammed)

“The Emiratis, particularly Mohammed Bin Zayed, absolutely reject Abbas on the personal level, to the extent that they told the Jordanians explicitly that the reason the UAE is negative about Jordan is due to the fact that Jordan did not take a stand against Abbas,” an unnamed senior Palestinian source was quoted by the news site as saying.

“The parties [the UAE, Jordan and Egypt] believe that Mahmoud Abbas has expired politically and that they should endeavor to stop any surprises by Abbas during the period when Fatah will remain under his leadership until the elections are held,” the source was quoted as saying.

The plan reportedly includes reintroducing Dahlan to the Palestinian territories, initially in a role that would not directly challenge Abbas, such as parliamentary speaker.

Dahlan, however, is considered to be unpopular among Palestinians and has been accused of links to Israeli security services. His broken relationship with Abbas is also considered problematic.

Abbas is currently serving as PA president for the 11th straight year, even though elections are supposed to take place every four years.

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