Revealed: Hamas bans personal meetings with Dahlan out of distrust

Revealed: Hamas bans personal meetings with Dahlan out of distrust
Hamas' political bureau voted two weeks ago to ban any meetings with Fatah MP Mohammed Dahlan personally, out of a fear of a return to 'Dahlanistan,' the New Arab reveals.
3 min read
25 Aug, 2017
Dahlan appeared at a political meeting in Gaza via television-link due to his exile [AFP]
It was the political equivalent of St Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus. Mohammad Dahlan - famous for torturing and persecuting Hamas members while chief of the Gaza strip - had secured a bizarre political alliance with Hamas.

Dahlan, who worked as a security advisor to UAE Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan for the past decade, said in June that the deal was important "to alleviate the suffering of the people of Gaza". Weeks later and the UAE had started sending $15 million a month to the besieged strip.

The deal would allow Gaza's only remaining border gate with Egypt at Rafah to reopen and allow for a brand-new $100 million power plant. In an area blighted by near-constant power cuts and the effects of a ten-year economic blockade by Israel, the appeal to the Islamist revolutionary brigade was strong.

Less than two months later however, and Hamas have already turned face on their one-time persecutor.

The New Arab can reveal that during an emergency meeting of its Political Bureau two weeks ago, Hamas ordered that no official be allowed to meet Dahlan in person.

The bureau "bans any Hamas leader personally meeting with Mohammad Dahlan and to only allow meetings with the leaders of Dahlan's party under clear and direct objectives to resolve the social crisis."

Gaza was once nicknamed "Dahlanistan" because of the power Dahlan wielded and a number of Hamas' officials told The New Arab of their fears of a return to those times.

"There is a split in the Movement [Hamas]," one Hamas official said on condition of anonymity.

"There are those who think the deal will provide economic and social benefits for the people of Gaza - but there are others who believe there will be a political cost imposed on Hamas."

Gaza borders infographic
[Click to expand] Infographic on Gaza's borders

Dahlan is wanted in Palestine on a string of corruption and murder charges that he has denied and refuted as politically motivated - although he once admitted to Vanity Fair that "mistakes were made". The former strongman has since remained in exile to this day, following a set of new laws issued by President Mahmoud Abbas earlier this year that cancelled all political immunity.

A return to Palestine would be dangerous for Abbas' main political rival and so Dahlan has largely devolved his local presence to his wife, Jaleela - known locally for her generous charity to the poor.

Despite this obvious threat, Dahlan has continued to work towards replacing Abbas' power in Gaza through his twin power bases in Cairo and Abu Dhabi. Abbas attempted to counterplay by forcing Hamas into subservience.

Earlier this year Ramallah stopped paying Gaza's electricity bill, causing roaming blackouts that closed down hospitals and placed strains on the strip's groaning infrastructure. Abbas then ordered thousands of Palestinian Authority officials lose their jobs.

"We will continue to gradually stop the transfer of funds to the Gaza Strip if Hamas does not abide by the reconciliation initiative," Abbas said.

In a position roughly located between a rock [Dahlan's second weapon of choice] and a hard place [reconciliation with Abbas], Hamas opted to placate both sides. It signed a seven-point agreement with Abbas and later agreed to a UAE-sponsored deal with Dahlan.

Point after point were agreed to while economic weapons were non-subtly placed on the negotiating table. Hamas is fighting for its political survival and it does not look good.