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Concerns as renowned former Palestinian security chief meets Hamas

Mohammed Dahlan has built a reputation as a regional hard-man [AFP]

Date of publication: 27 July, 2017

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The burgeoning alliance between Hamas and Mohammed Dahlan is seen as a potential blow to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Exiled former Palestinian security chief Mohammed Dahlan has met with Hamas officials, in what is thought to be the first time in ten years.

UAE-backed Dahlan, who is also the security adviser to Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, was Abbas' Fatah movement ally before a massive falling-out.

It led to Dahlan's exile in 2011. He now lives in the UAE.

In recent months, the former Gaza security supremo, who spent decades building a reputation as a regional hard-man, has moved closer to Hamas, Gaza's rulers, ostensibly to mediate negotiations that could see Egypt lifting its siege on the blockaded coastal Palestinian territory.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has vowed to isolate both Dahlan and Hamas, but their increasing closeness is prompting concerns among Fatah's most senior circles.

A portion of the Palestinian Legislative Council, which has not met in full since 2007 after Hamas won elections recognised by international observers as free and fair, held an emergency session on Thursday.

Dahlan attended the meeting via video-link, while seven of his allies in Gaza attended in person, according to Hamas' media office.

Dahlan announced that had been talking with Hamas to reach "understandings which are able to restore hope to alleviate the suffering of the people of Gaza".

He added that talks with Hamas were progressing but still had a long way to go.

The 132-member Palestinian parliament is dominated by Hamas with 74 members, while Fatah has only 45.

Palestinian officials said the meeting comes after a delegation headed by Hamas' Gaza leader and spymaster Yahya Sinwar met with Dahlan in Cairo in June to discuss resolving Gaza's humanitarian crisis.

Dahlan was appointed head of the preventative security force in Gaza between 1994 and 2002, after the Oslo Accords.

During that time, he launched a crackdown in Gaza and became notorious for his violent treatment of Hamas supporters.

Gaza was nicknamed "Dahlanistan" because of the power Dahlan had acquired in the city.

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