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June 9, 2015 11:35 am

Abbas Rival Convinces UAE to Pay Families of Palestinian Terrorists

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Former Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan. Photo: Screenshot.

Former Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan. Photo: Screenshot.

Mohammed Dahlan, the former Fatah strongman in Gaza and bitter rival of Mahmoud Abbas who is living in exile in Abu Dhabi, has announced that the UAE will pay the families of “martyrs” of Gaza from last year’s war.

Dahlan said that the UAE’s National Committee will pay a “martyr’s bonus” approved by the UAE political leadership: they will pay the families $5,000 per family in the coming days.

Roughly half of those killed in Gaza were terrorists.

The story is more interesting because of who announced it than for what he announced. ($10 million is chicken feed for the UAE.)

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Dahlan is vying to be the successor to the aging Mahmoud Abbas, and he is living in luxury in Abu Dhabi plotting his return. As Newsweek reported recently:

No place in the Arab world could be more different from the Gaza Strip than Abu Dhabi. The affluent emirate on the Gulf has shimmering skyscrapers, a Grand Prix racetrack and its own Louvre. Yet Mohammed Dahlan, the 53-year-old Gaza native and exiled political leader, seems comfortable here. His home is a glossy mingling of marble and glass, with chandeliers hanging from high ceilings and framed paintings on the walls. On a sunny winter day recently, he worked in his garden dressed in jeans and soft loafers, then greeted me on his waterfront patio.

But for all its luxuriousness, Abu Dhabi is only temporary, Dahlan says—a staging area where he now plots his comeback. He’s lived in this city for four years, ever since Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expelled him from the governing Fatah party and charged him with corruption and defamation. The rift between them cut short a political career that seemed brimming with promise. Over a 20-year period, Dahlan served as the powerful security chief of Gaza, an adviser to Yasser Arafat, a negotiator with Israel and Abbas’s minister of interior. Now he’s trying to succeed his rival and become the next president of Palestine. “I have a nice life here, but believe me, my heart is there,” he tells Newsweek. “If there’s an election tomorrow, I’ll go back.”

In his interview with Newsweek, Dahlan positioned himself as a counterweight to Hamas, one of the few political figures with enough clout and muscle to defeat the Islamists. He made clear that he was using money and political connections—two resources he seems to have in abundance—to regain relevance in the territory he left behind. “The Gazan people are victims of Hamas, the Israelis and Abbas,” he says. “They all talk about the suffering of the people, but none of them are doing anything.”

For the past year, Dahlan has been raising money in Gulf countries and distributing it to needy Gazans, in part through a charity run by his wife.

Dahlan also took credit for the partial opening of the Rafah crossing last week.

Interestingly, the Newsweek article notes that Dahlan took Serbian citizenship last year, an option that Arab countries do not offer for Palestinian “refugees.”

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