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In exclusive interview with Ma’an, Dahlan slams Palestinian Authority, Fatah

Muhammad Dahlan, left, speaking with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in an undated photo. (File)

CAIRO (Ma’an) — Discharged Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan severely criticized the Palestinian Authority (PA) while dismissing the likelihood of a reconciliation with his former party, in an exclusive interview with Ma’an in Cairo.Dahlan, who was Fatah’s leading figure in the Gaza Strip before 2007, was excluded from Fatah in 2011 over allegations of being involved in the death of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, and of engaging in high-level corruption.Speaking to Ma’an, Dahlan severely criticized the Fatah-led PA, notably accusing the Palestinian government of financial mismanagement and corruption.While discussing the fate of occupied East Jerusalem in light of the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, Dahlan said that the PA, which has a budget of $4.25 billion for 2016, “fails to allocate one tenth of that money to protect Jerusalem and help our people stay firm in Jerusalem.”The PA, he said, complains of insufficient funds while spending “hundreds of millions on building embassies all over the world, on travel, and on delegations.”Dahlan also criticized the PA and Fatah in particular for neglecting Palestinian refugee camps in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Lebanon.”Why are we treating our people in those refugee camps just as neglectfully as we treat our people in Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip?” he asked.”The PA spends only 0.003 percent of its budget on the Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon, and we are talking about 600,000 Palestinian refugees living dire conditions and deprived of the right to work, movement, education and medical treatment, not to mention what Palestinian refugees in Syria have been suffering as a result of the war,” Dahlan alleged. “I challenge whomever to prove the opposite.”The failures of PA leadership, in addition to repressive Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, could have dire consequences, Dahlan said.”If this situation continues, we will either yield to the occupation’s conditions and rules — which is impossible at the popular level — or have a popular uprising, which will be very dangerous,” he said, adding that the status quo could no longer be sustained.When questioned about the wave of unrest since October 2015 the former Fatah leader said the ongoing popular movement, in which 236 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis and 34 Israelis were killed by Palestinians, hadn’t reached the level of intifada, because “major Palestinian factions haven’t been willing to adopt it and support it.”Due to the lack of support from political actors, the unrest, which has mainly involved politically unaffiliated Palestinians acting alone, has relied on “individual heroism, but this individual heroism won’t remain single or unorganized forever,” Dahlan added.Focusing on the Fatah party, Dahlan went on to accuse the West Bank’s ruling party of being too focused on internal party conflicts, at the expense of national issues.Amid growing dissent within Fatah, the PA has come under fire for cracking down on Palestinians for criticizing the government, notably removing two Fatah officials over participation in a meeting attended by hundreds of local Fatah leaders, and arresting one of them after he spoke out regarding his dismissal.Dahlan denounced the Palestinian police’s dispersal of the Fatah meeting in the al-Amari refugee camp, and responded sarcastically to questions regarding a possible reconciliation with Fatah head and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.”Tell me if you have a magic recipe and I will accept it. Let Ma’an News Agency propose a scenario for a fair and just solution which protects our rights and our duties and I will accept it,” he said.Dahlan said that six attempts by Palestinian factions and Arab countries have failed to reconcile him Abbas. “At the beginning of each reconciliation initiative, Abu Mazen would agree, but at the end he would go back on his word, despite the fact that I gave up on all my rights except the right to remain in Fatah,” Dahlan said, using a moniker for Abbas.Dahlan denied claims that he had seceded from Fatah, asking “how can a man who defends the honor of his affiliation to the movement day and night be accused of secession? Isn’t that a huge injustice? And since when has this great movement been treated as a company or a farm, where people can be fired based on personal attitudes?”Meanwhile, Dahlan asserted that he didn’t have any aspirations to become the next Palestinian president, despite numerous allegations over the years that Israel, as well as some Arab countries, strongly support his accession to power.”I face this stereotypical question so often, and I always repeat the same answer: I am not a candidate, nor am I aspiring for presidency and I say this confidently and with ease,” Dahlan said.Asked about his recent announcement that he would support the candidacy of imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi, he responded: “This is a personal belief which I had announced long ago. It also reflects the Palestinian public’s attitude through surveys I carry out, and it is now time to have free elections which the people want.”The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) found in a poll earlier this year that at least 64 percent of the Palestinian public are in favor of the resignation of Abbas.However, according to the same poll, only 4 percent of the Palestinian public support Dahlan to become the Abbas’ successor, while 33 percent support Barghouti to replace Abbas as the next Palestinian president.

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