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.


Iran’s parliament advances bill to stop nuclear inspections

Updated 36 min 7 sec ago

Iran’s parliament advances bill to stop nuclear inspections

  • The vote to debate the bill was a show of defiance after the killing of a prominent Iranian nuclear scientist last month
  • The official IRNA news agency said 251 lawmakers in the 290-seat chamber voted in favor

TEHRAN: Iran’s parliament Tuesday advanced a bill that would end UN inspections of its nuclear facilities and require the government to boost its uranium enrichment if European signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal do not provide relief from oil and banking sanctions.
The vote to debate the bill, which would need to pas through several other stages before becoming law, was a show of defiance after the killing of a prominent Iranian nuclear scientist last month.
The official IRNA news agency said 251 lawmakers in the 290-seat chamber voted in favor, after which many began chanting “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!”
The bill would give European countries three months to ease sanctions on Iran’s key oil and gas sector, and to restore its access to the international banking system. The US imposed crippling sanctions on Iran after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear agreement, triggering a series of escalations between the two sides.
The bill would have authorities resume enriching uranium to 20%, which is below the threshold needed for nuclear weapons but higher than that required for civilian applications. It would also commission new centrifuges at nuclear facilities at Natanz and the underground Fordo site.
The bill would require another parliamentary vote to pass, as well as approval by the Guardian Council, a constitutional watchdog.
The bill was first tabled in parliament in August but gained new momentum after the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who headed a program that Israel and the West have alleged was a military operation looking at the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon. The International Atomic Energy Agency says that “structured program” ended in 2003. US intelligence agencies concurred with that assessment in a 2007 report.
Israel insists Iran still maintains the ambition of developing nuclear weapons, pointing to Tehran’s ballistic missile program and research into other technologies. Iran long has maintained that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
Iran has blamed Fakhrizadeh’s killing on Israel, which has long waged a covert war against Tehran and its proxies in the region. Israeli officials have declined to comment on the killing, and no one has claimed responsibility.
Some Iranian officials have suggested that the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has been regularly inspecting Iran’s nuclear facilities in recent years as part of the 2015 agreement, may have been a source of intelligence for Fakhrizadeh’s killers.
Iran began publicly exceeding uranium enrichment levels set by the nuclear agreement after the US restored sanctions. It currently enriches a growing uranium stockpile up to 4.5% purity.
That’s still far below weapons-grade levels of 90%, though experts warn Iran now has enough low-enriched uranium to reprocess into fuel for at least two atomic bombs if it chose to pursue them.