Arrest campaign targets allies of Palestinian MP

In this Photo taken Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, the newly built Palestinian Authority's mansion, at the outskirts of the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AP)
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Updated 29 September 2020

Arrest campaign targets allies of Palestinian MP

  • The Palestinian Authority believes that Dahlan played a major role in the conclusion of the peace agreement between the UAE and Israel

GAZA CITY: Palestinian Authority security services recently began a campaign to arrest opposition activists in the West Bank.
The campaign has targeted activists in the Democratic Reform Bloc of parliament member Muhammad Dahlan, a high-profile critic of President Mahmoud Abbas.
Key members of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, former security officials and university professors have been arrested. These include Haitham Al-Halabi, a member of the Revolutionary Council in the Nablus, and Maj. Gen. Salim Abu Safiya, a former security official in the Gaza Strip.
Several days ago London-based Palestinian journalist Jayab Abu Safiya published pictures from the home of his uncle, Maj. Gen. Abu Safiya, showing security personnel tampering with property.
Abu Safiya’s family said in a statement that at 2 a.m. security services arbitrarily arrested him. Abu Safiya was a former prisoner in an Israeli jail and a founder of the Preventive Security Service.
A court released him after seven days’ detention on Monday, while Haitham Al-Halabi’s sentence was extended by 15 days amid ongoing investigations.
An official source in the Palestinian Public Prosecution office in Ramallah told Arab News that the prisoners are facing two main charges related to possession of weapons and transfer of illegal funds to the West Bank.
However, a leading source in the Fatah, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that the arrests were based on direct instructions from President Abbas to the Joint Security Committee to take strict measures against Dahlan supporters.
The Palestinian Authority believes that Dahlan played a major role in the conclusion of the peace agreement between the UAE and Israel.
Dahlan has resided in the UAE after a dispute with President Abbas forced him to leave the West Bank. He sought refuge there after Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.

BACKGROUND

An official source in the Palestinian Public Prosecution office in Ramallah told Arab News that the prisoners are facing two main charges related to possession of weapons and transfer of illegal funds to the West Bank.

Since then, Dahlan, 58, who enjoys strong international and regional ties, has been widely reported as a potential successor to Abbas, 84.
Spokesman for the security forces in the West Bank Maj. Gen. Adnan Al-Dameiri denied that the arrests were political. “The security services arrested 4 or 5 people only on the basis of legal violations,” he said.
The arrest campaign coincided with statements by US ambassador to Israel David Friedman, in which he told Hebrew newspaper Israel Hayom that the US was considering replacing President Abbas with Dahlan. The newspaper later retracted the statement.
A Fatah source told Arab News that the claim angered President Abbas and his team, after Friedman also claimed Dahlan played a “significant” role in UAE-Israel agreement.
Spokesman for the Democratic Reform Bloc and member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council Dimitri Diliani told Arab News that Dahlan preceded Abbas in rejecting the statements of the US ambassador. He added that Dahlan also rejected the Israel deal through an official statement issued from Abu Dhabi.
Diliani rejected accusations directed at the prisoners and said they have “no relationship or connection with money, or the current financing methods in the West Bank.”
He said there is a “separate structure” for money and financing, and that the method of delivering money to the West Bank is carried out in strict secrecy.
“Abbas and the group of beneficiaries surrounding him fear the power of the Dahlan bloc, which today has become a majority inside Fatah at home and abroad,” he added.

Highlight An official source in the Palestinian Public Prosecution office in Ramallah told Arab News that the prisoners are facing two main charges related to possession of weapons and transfer of illegal funds to the West Bank.


Turkish Cypriots elect Erdogan’s candidate amid east Med tensions

Turkish Cypriot politician Ersin Tatar celebrates his election victory in Turkish-controlled northern Nicosia, Cyprus October 18, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 October 2020

Turkish Cypriots elect Erdogan’s candidate amid east Med tensions

  • The European Union has deplored Turkey’s drilling for hydrocarbons in disputed waters and warned Ankara against further “provocations”
  • Tatar is an advocate of a two-state solution and held the post of premier in the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

NICOSIA: Turkish Cypriots in breakaway northern Cyprus on Sunday narrowly elected right-wing nationalist Ersin Tatar, backed by Ankara, in a run-off poll, at a time of heightened tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.
Tatar, 60, clinched his surprise victory in a second round of presidential elections, winning 51.7 percent of the vote, official results showed.
He edged out incumbent Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, 72, a supporter of reunification with the Greek Cypriot south of the divided island, leaving attempts to relaunch long-stalled UN-brokered talks hanging in the balance.
Tatar is an advocate of a two-state solution and held the post of premier in the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), recognized only by Ankara.
He controversially received the open backing of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the election campaign.
In a victory speech to hundreds of cheering and Turkish flag-waving supporters, Tatar thanked Turkey’s head of state and said: “We deserve our sovereignty — we are the voice of Turkish Cypriots.
“We are fighting to exist within the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, therefore our neighbors in the south and the world community should respect our fight for freedom.”
There was no immediate official reaction from the Greek Cypriot government or ruling party in the south of the island, which is a European Union member state, although opposition parties were quick to lament the outcome.
Erdogan was swift to celebrate the victory, which followed a high 67-percent turnout at the polls.
“I congratulate Ersin Tatar who has been elected president ... Turkey will continue to provide all types of efforts to protect the rights of the Turkish Cypriot people,” he wrote on Twitter.

HIGHLIGHT

Ersin Tatar edged out incumbent Mustafa Akinc, leaving attempts to relaunch UN-brokered talks hanging in the balance.

In a telephone call the same night, Erdogan said he was confident the two leaders would maintain close cooperation in all areas, “starting with the hydrocarbon linked activities in the eastern Mediterranean,” his office said.
Under Erdogan, Turkey has become an increasingly assertive regional power that is now engaged in a bitter dispute with Greece and Cyprus over oil and gas reserves in eastern Mediterranean waters.
The European Union has deplored Turkey’s drilling for hydrocarbons in disputed waters and warned Ankara against further “provocations,” while multiple countries have staged military drills in the region in recent months.
The second-round ballot was triggered after Tatar won 32 percent of the vote on Oct. 11 ahead of Akinci, who garnered just under 30 percent.
Akinci was tipped to secure a second term, having won the backing of Tufan Erhurman, a fellow social democrat who came third last time around.
After his defeat, Akinci, who had accused Ankara of meddling in the polls, thanked his supporters and said: “You know what happened ... I am not going to do politics on this.”
The TRNC, with a population of about 300,000, was established after the north was occupied by Turkey in 1974 in reaction to a coup that aimed to annex Cyprus to Greece.
Earlier in October, Turkish troops angered the Republic of Cyprus by reopening public access to the fenced-off seaside ghost town of Varosha for the first time since Turkish forces invaded the north.
The reopening was announced jointly by Erdogan and Tatar at a meeting in Ankara just days before the first round of polling.
It drew EU and UN criticism and sparked demonstrations in the Republic of Cyprus, which exercises its authority over the island’s south, separated from the TRNC by a UN-patrolled buffer zone.
On the eve of Sunday’s vote, Greek Cypriot demonstrators massed at a checkpoint along the so-called “Green Line,” holding signs that read “Cyprus is Greek,” in protest at the reopening of nearby Varosha to the Turkish Cypriots.
Turkey has repeatedly said it seeks to defend Turkish and Turkish Cypriots’ rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
Akinci’s relationship with Ankara had come under strain, especially after he described the prospect of the north’s annexation by Turkey as “horrible” in February.
When Akinci took office in 2015, he was hailed as the leader best placed to revive peace talks.
But hopes were dashed in July 2017 after UN-mediated negotiations collapsed in Switzerland, notably over Greek Cypriot demands for the withdrawal of the tens of thousands of Turkish soldiers still stationed in the TRNC.