Fatah’s internal power struggles are intensifying ahead of the election and have become a “dirty game,” according to one of the organization’s senior members. Fatah is the primary faction in the Palestinian Authority.
On the one hand, Abu Mazen’s people, led by Jibril Rajoub, are working to prevent senior Fatah members Muhammad Dahlan and Marwan Barghouti from running in the elections. Dahlan and Barghouti’s people say that the threat posed by Abu Mazen in the Fatah Revolutionary Council, to shoot anyone who dares to run outside the Fatah list, has launched a campaign of settling of accounts.
On the other hand, official documents held in Yasser Arafat’s “safes and personal drawers” are now being pulled out, targeting Jibril Rajoub. He is secretary general of the Fatah committee who is leading the negotiations with Hamas for unity and is expected to head the Fatah delegation to talks between the factions in Cairo on February 8.
Fatah officials, who disclosed the documents, believe that if Rajoub’s status is harmed, Abu Mazen will be harmed in his wake and they are working to blow up the upcoming Cairo talks, before it is too late, they claim.
“If the elections are held while Rajoub and Abu Mazen prevent Barghouti and Dahlan from participating in the elections and running, Fatah is expected to lose and action must be taken now to prevent the failure,” they said, explaining why they decided to reveal Arafat’s old documents.
One of the documents obtained by TPS shows that Rajoub was responsible for eliminating Hamas members as the commander of preventive security in the PA’s territories in the mid-1990s.
The document, which Rajoub sent to Arafat on October 1, 1997, describes an operation by the preventive security which exposed Hamas’ organizational structure and contains details about senior members of the organization, including those in Iran – Imad al-Alami, and Egypt – Abed Fatah Ma’ali, as well as their names defined as “wanted” by the Palestinian Authority.
The name of Zaher Jabarin, who is currently in charge of the Hamas’ entire financial system in Turkey, also appears in the document.
It also appears that Rajoub thwarted suicide operations after arresting another Hamas operative.
But the attention is actually being focused on three senior Hamas figures who were defined as “wanted” by Rajoub, Mohi A-Din Sharif and the brothers Imad and Adel Awadallah from al-Bira, who were defined as “senior” in Hamas’ military wing.
It should be noted that after the death of Mohi A-Din Sharif, (he inherited command of Hamas from Hassan Salameh, who commanded Hamas after the assassination of Yahya Ayash, “the engineer” in 1996), in a mysterious explosion in a garage in al-Bira, Adel Awadallah took command of the military arm. His brother, Imad, who is also a senior Hamas figure, was captured by Rajoub’s men and imprisoned in Jericho.
In August 1998, a few months after the document was written by Rajoub, Imad Awadallah escaped from a prison in Jericho and met his brother in a village near Hebron. Shortly afterwards, the two were eliminated by an Israeli Special Force unit.
Hamas saw Rajoub as responsible for the assassination of the Awadallah brothers, claiming that Imad’s escape from prison was staged and intended to lead Israel to his brother.
“Rajoub claimed that he never pursued Hamas members,” Palestinian sources say, “but now it turns out that he followed Hamas operatives and persecuted them until close to their assassination. Rajoub defined Hamas leaders as wanted and promised Arafat to continue and follow them shortly before they were eliminated.”
“The official document proves that Rajoub saw the Awadallah brothers as a target and reported to Arafat on following them, while he has been claiming for years that they were never wanted by him,” they add.
It should be noted that former Israeli intelligence official cannot substantiate any evidence regarding Rajoub’s involvement in the assassination of Hamas members and cannot point to any evidence of Hamas’ allegations previously made against Rajoub. However, they note that Arafat instituted the “revolving door” method, during which Hamas members were imprisoned and released shortly after, which could explain Imad Awadallah’s “escape” from the Jericho prison.
The leak of the document was intended to prevent Rajoub from promoting unity with Hamas, a move that even in Ramallah there are many who oppose. “Rajoub today is working for unity with Hamas only out of political considerations and is trying to forge relations with Hamas because of personal interests and he does not hesitate to risk the Fatah’s rule in the PA,” said the sources, who were very close to Arafat and hold additional documents.
The sources explain that the fake show of unity with Hamas ahead of the election is intended to serve only Abu Mazen and Rajoub, although it endangers the future of the divided Fatah.
“The Abu Mazen camp will not be able to defeat Hamas in the elections unless all the Fatah factions are united,” they told TPS.
Meanwhile, Rajoub is determined to prevent Barghouti from running. TPS has learned that Rajoub, who was asked by Abu Mazen to prevent any other candidate in Fatah and Hamas from running for the presidency, has been working in recent days to persuade Barghouti not to run against Abu Mazen.
Barghouti currently heads a Fatah faction and also has the support of Muhammad Dahlan, who was thrown out of Fatah by Abu Mazen, who set himself the goal of blocking Dahlan’s path by accusing him of a crime that deprives him of the right to run.
A few days ago, Rajoub said that despite Barghouti’s lawyer’s statements, he was determined to meet him face to face and persuade him not to run. Sources in Ramallah add that Rajoub even promised to American officials about two weeks ago that he would do everything in his power to prevent a confrontation with Abu Mazen and ensure his victory.
Against this background, Fatah officials claim, Rajoub is expected to submit a request to Israel to meet with Barghouti in prison. It should be noted that Rajoub denied the allegations in a conversation with TPS, and the Israel Prison Service and other security officials in Israel are not aware at the moment about such a request.
“Even if Marwan is released now, he will not miss the opportunity to face Abu Mazen,” his men say amid rumors that Rajoub is about to offer their leader not to run in exchange for a real effort by PA officials to secure his release. Marwan’s people believe that Abu Mazen and his men have been working in recent years to keep Barghouti in his cell, away from Ramallah.
Rajoub did not comment on what appears in the document but referring to allegations about his intention to meet Barghouti, Rajoub told TPS that “this is nonsense.”