CAIRO, Asharq Al-Awsat – Fatah Commissioner of Information, Mohammed Dahlan confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “members of the Fatah Central Committee are united behind President Mahmoud Abbas.” He also revealed that “informers” had poisoned his relationship with Abbas, although this has not reached the level of a “dispute.”
Dahlan called for peaceful and creative steps to be taken in order to strengthen the perseverance of the Palestinian people, whilst he also predicted the outbreak of a third Intifada should the peace process remain stalled.
Yesterday, Mohammed Dahlan met with Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman in Cairo. Dahlan told Asharq Al-Awsat “I do not deny that there has been a misunderstanding with President Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas]”. He added “my respect for the President does not prevent me from expressing my opinion about the Palestinian Cause openly and transparently, during leadership meetings, and meetings of the Central Committee of the Fatah government”.
He went on to clarify his position, saying “however I have been surprised by this crisis and these leaks which have no purpose but to create confusion in the Palestinian situation”.
Dahlan added “there is always a group of individuals who are a burden on the shoulders of the Palestinian people and leadership. They spread slander, and I refuse to comment about what they attempted to spread here and there.”
Dahlan also told Asharq Al-Awsat “I do not deny that misinterpretation and misunderstanding can occur within the Palestinian leadership, but I did not expect that this would reach the stage of disagreement. I do not consider there to be a dispute between myself and President Abbas, at least from my side, for what brings us together is common interests….his responsibility as President and my responsibility as a member of the Central Committee, the elected framework whose authority I do not exceed, and I will not allow others to offer their advice on how I operate.”
As for reports about the security around Dahlan’s home being down-graded and the closure of the “Palestine Tomorrow” television channel, which is a subsidiary of the parent “Al-Mustaqbal” company, Dahlan said that “I do not want to dwell on these issues, not because I am unable to explain them but because I am not in a race with anybody for power, and if there is any harm in these decision, this is against those who took them.”
Regarding his relationship with the channel, Dahlan revealed that “it belonged to a private company owned by a group of investors who wanted to establish a channel to serve the Palestinian Cause.” He added “I was able to convince these investors, some of them Palestinians, some of them Arabs [to invest in the channel].” Dahlan also revealed that the closure of this channel will be discussed by the Central Committee of Fatah at a future time. He said: “the priority here is to stop settlement activity, not to stop a channel that supports the Palestinian people”.
Responding to a question about whether his request to meet with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Ghiet and Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman had been denied, Dahlan told Asharq Al-Awsat “this is a joke. I have both official and personal links with Minister Suleiman, and I am used to meeting Minister Suleiman and Foreign Minster Aboul Gheit whenever there is an important issue [to discuss]. Minister Suleiman did not refuse any request from any Palestinian official [to meet]; he will meet businessmen, important figures, and others. The relationship between the Palestinian leadership and Egypt is not governed by official protocols alone”.
Dahlan revealed that during his meeting with the Egyptian Intelligence Chief, Omar Suleiman – who is a Minister without portfolio – the two discussed three major concerns, including the unity of the Palestinian leadership, returning the peace process to its normal state with international guarantees being given and a return to serious negotiation [with Israel], and finally Palestinian national unity and reconciliation with the Hamas movement.
Dahlan also told Asharq Al-Awsat that Suleiman is closely observing the inter-Palestinian reconciliation, adding that “I think Fatah has done what it needs to when it agreed to the Egyptian Document, and Mr. Azzam al-Ahmed led the Fatah delegation for reconciliation to Damascus, where he met with the Hamas leadership where they [Hamas] recorded their concerns that they wanted to be taken into account.”
Dahlan asked “why did Hamas not sign the Egyptian Document after their concerns were examined?” He called on Hamas to seize the opportunity and address the challenges being faced by the Palestinian people.
As for his position on the negotiations, Dahlan told Asharq Al-Awsat that “this corresponds with the position of the President and the [Fatah] Central Committee.” He said that “Netanyahu’s rejections, and his failure to recognize a reference for the peace process, means that his term in office will not see any step forward in the peace process. He does not want peace so much as he wants to (restructure the occupation), and he wants us to agree to this plan. Therefore, I am against the negotiations on this basis, and this is the stated position of President Mahmoud Abbas, and we support it. I do not see an end on the horizon for the peace process, as long as the Netanyahu government is in power. Therefore we must have a plan in place to confront this.”
In this regard, Dahlan told Asharq Al-Awsat that his proposal is to confront the Israeli arrogance through united Palestinian action, with different forces and factions uniting for national action. He also said “the practical response to Netanyahu’s policies would be for Hamas to sign the Egyptian Document, and at the same time we should study the possibility of putting pressure on Israel, along with the Arab Monitoring Committee, Egypt, and the Arab States [putting pressure on Israel].”
Regarding the threats that the Palestinian Authority may dissolve itself, Dahlan told Asharq Al-Awsat that this was an emotional stance, not a political one, by those who “have realized that the Palestinian Authority does not exercise any of the rights stipulated by the Oslo Accords.” He pointed out that Israel has not only stopped the peace process, but undermined all Palestinian achievements.
Dahlan said “we have many pressure cards, such as saying (subject to security coordination in the political process): if you stop this peace process, then security cooperation will stop as well. Security is a form of leverage in the hands of the Palestinian Authority, and it must be used correctly. This does not mean calling for another Intifada, on the contrary we will gain more from preserving the internal Palestinian situation, and stability in the West Ban. However at the same time we have the potential to apply pressure [on Israel]. I believe that the current situation is not normal, and one that all Palestinian reject.”
Dahlan clarified his position to Asharq Al-Awsat, reiterating that “once again, I am not calling for, nor do I want to advocate, the use of violence, because this would mean paying a steep price, and we do not need this.”
Dahlan stated there are civil ways [to apply pressure on Israel], including popular resistance for example, “which no one could blame us for. On the contrary, half of Israel will participate with us, and the international community will sympathize with us.”
Regarding the US position towards the negotiations, Dahlan added “I do not doubt the intentions of the US President, but all of those working on the peace process have reached a dead-end for incomprehensive and inexcusable reasons. The US administration has moved from the option of solving the crisis to the option of managing the crisis, and today it has reached an impasse.”