Avi Issacharoff
January 4, 2011 - 1:00am

Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan has denied accusation that he had been plotting a military coup to unseat Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the Al-Hayat daily reported on Tuesday.

Palestinian Authority security forces questioned the Fatah Central Committee member on Sunday over a recent spat with Abbas and requested that he leave for Amman.

Dahlan denied allegations that he attempted to overthrow Abbas or that he had been harboring weapons and told Al-Hayat that the investigation was essentially a "non-story".

The security forces earlier questioned a number Fatah activists on suspicion they had been recruited by him to form an armed militia which Dahlan intended to command.

The suspects were summoned for questioning about their ties to Dahlan and whether they received instructions or funds from him in connection with the purchase of weapons. They were then released.

According to Fatah officials, Dahlan was asked to leave the PA for Jordan and was stripped on his Fatah membership. Dahlan's associates deny the claims.

According to Dahlan's associates, he requested to leave for Amman on his own accord, and he initiated the meeting with the security forces.
Last week, reports surfaced claiming the Fatah faction had banned Dahlan from party meetings.

Prior to the ban, Abbas had ordered security guards to be removed from Dahlan's office and house in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Since then, Dahlan has spent more time abroad.

Abbas had recently waged a campaign to reduce Dahlan's standing in the wake of harsh criticism of the president by the Fatah strongman.
Dahlan's associates - including Yusef Issa Yakub, who until recently served as the deputy to the commander of the PA's preventative security force - have also been removed from their positions.

Dahlan, 49, who was considered until recently to be one of the strongest figures in Fatah, lives in both Ramallah and Cairo. Many in the movement attributed the failure to head off the Hamas takeover of Gaza to Dahlan.
He created enemies not only within his organization, but also in Hamas, for moving against the Islamic group in the 1990s and in the months prior to its takeover of the Strip.

Over the past year, Fatah leadership, including Abbas himself, heard increasing accounts of Dahlan's open criticism. About two months ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that Dahlan was part of a group that intended to have Abbas replaced by Nasser al-Kidwa, a nephew of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.


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