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September 22, 2020 8:14 am

Palestinians Arrest Supporters of Abbas Rival Based in UAE

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

Mohammed Dahlan, a former Fatah security chief, gestures in his office in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Oct. 18, 2016. Photo: Reuters / Stringer.

Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces arrested over half a dozen supporters of an exiled Palestinian politician who some have accused of involvement in the United Arab Emirates deal to forge ties with Israel, a spokesman for his faction said.

Mohammed Dahlan has lived in the UAE since being driven out of the West Bank in 2011 after a bitter row with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his political party Fatah, of which Dahlan is a member.

The Gulf Arab country’s deal to establish diplomatic relations with Israel has angered Palestinians and stirred widespread speculation that Dahlan played a role.

Dahlan’s faction has criticized Arab countries forming relations with Israel before its conflict with the Palestinians is resolved, though he has not outright denied involvement.

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On Monday, seven members of Dahlan’s faction were arrested by security forces from Abbas’s PA, which has limited self-rule in the West Bank, according to Dahlan faction spokesman Imad Mohsen, who called the arrests “politically motivated.”

The arrests were carried out in the West Bank and included Haytham al-Halabi and Salim Abu Safia, both senior members of Dahlan’s faction, a statement from the group said.

In a statement, the PA security forces said they had detained Halabi from a village near the West Bank city of Nablus as part of “a continuation of efforts to impose security and order.”

The statement did not mention any other arrests.

The PA’s Interior Ministry declined comment.

A former Gaza security chief, Dahlan has long been floated as a potential successor to Abbas. He has cultivated close ties with UAE leaders since his exile.

The UAE and fellow Gulf Arab state Bahrain signed normalization agreements with Israel at the White House last week in a ceremony hosted by US President Donald Trump.

The deals were the first such accommodations between Arab countries and Israel in more than 20 years, and were forged partly through shared fears of Iran.

Palestinians have called the moves a betrayal, fearing they would weaken a longstanding pan-Arab position that calls for Israeli withdrawal from “occupied” territory and acceptance of a Palestinian state in return for normal relations with Israel.

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