In strange twist involving Abbas rival, PA employees threaten to tell EU ‘boycott us’

Palestinian Authority employees who support Abbas rival Mohammed Dahlan say the EU shouldn’t help the PA when it isn’t obeying its own laws.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A lawyer representing 165 employees of the Palestinian Authority (PA) has asked the EU to resolve a pay dispute within the entity after PA President Mahmoud Abbas cut salaries to those supporting a rival, Mohammed Dahlan.

The employees want the EU to step in and pressure Abbas to resume the paychecks. If he doesn’t, the employees threaten to ask the EU to cut all financial aid to the PA, the Jerusalem Post reported on Wednesday.

The threat, which Post reporter and Arab affairs expert Khaled Abu Toameh called “unprecedented,” was made through a letter that attorney Sevag Torossian sent Monday to the head of the EU Police and Rule of Law Mission for the Palestinian Territory (EUPOL COPPS), whose purpose is to help the PA form a proper policing and criminal justice system.

Torossian wrote that he has been “mandated to refer and submit the issue of the employees to all European and international institutions empowered to stop the financial aid to the Palestinian authorities if the issue is not solved by the end of the year.”

He charged that the PA is violating judgements handed down by its own High Court of Justice by withholding his clients’ pay for political reasons.

The issue “could be interpreted as the failure of the European assistance process to Palestinian authorities,” he wrote. “European financial aid to the Palestinian Authority to build a ‘state of law’ could be called into question.”

Dahlan was the leader of the PA in the Gaza Strip before Hamas violently took power there in 2007. With a strong power base, he was seen as a potent rival to President Mahmoud Abbas, and nine years ago Abbas expelled him from the Fatah movement on claims that he had helped murder PLO founder Yasser Arafat in 2004.

He fled to the United Arab Emirates, where he became close to Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Zayed. When the UAE normalized relations with Israel in September, Dahlan was one of those condemned by the PA for having had a hand behind the scenes in making the deal.

In 2017 and again in 2019, the PA asked Interpol to issue an arrest warrant for Dahlan on corruption charges, saying that his net worth of over $100 million was siphoned off its government. The international police body declined, saying that the basis of the charge was political in nature. Most recently, in August, Ankara asked Interpol to arrest Dahlan for running a spy network in Turkey and for allegedly being involved in a failed coup attempt there in 2016.