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.
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.