The Ramallah Anti-Corruption Crimes Court on Wednesday sentenced Muhammad Dahlan, a former senior member of Fatah now living in UAE and a longtime rival of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, to three years in prison for embezzling $16 million.
The court, which tried Dahlan in his absence, added a fine of $16 million to the sentence as payment for embezzling the money, declared him a fugitive from justice.
Ma’an recalled Dahlan’s fierce opposition to Hamas and his “merciless crackdown” on the rival group in the 1990s, when his PLO units rounded up thousands of Islamists who refused to recognize the legitimacy of the PA. Then Dahlan fell from grace in June 2007 after Hamas trounced his fighters in Gaza street battles, expelling Fatah permanently from the territory.
In 2010, after his election to the Fatah central committee, Dahlan was suspended, and an inquiry was launched to examine his finances, accusing him of setting up his own private militia.
In 2011, Dahlan was accused by Fatah leaders of poisoning Yasser Arafat – an honor he shared with Israeli security at the time.
Then, in 2015, the notorious anti-Hamas Dahlan called for integrating all the Palestinian factions, including Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, into the PLO. Meanwhile, several Arab regimes began to push his candidacy to replace Abbas when the time comes. Dahlan then began to accuse Abbas of holding on to his seat without popular support and without democratic elections (his term ran out around 2009).
Back in October, Dahlan told Ma’an the failures of PA leadership could bring the end to the Arabs’ hope for independence. “If this situation continues,” he warned, “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.”