Fatah: Ex-Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan poisoned Arafat
Claim contradicts popular Palestinian belief that Israel was responsible for Arafat's death.
Loyalists of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have accused a rival of poisoning the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, in an apparent effort to discredit him politically.
Top officials of Abbas' Fatah Party issued a report Sunday contending that former Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan sent poison disguised as medicine to Arafat while he was in a Paris hospital.
They offered no evidence to back up their claim, other than to say Dahlan ordered Arafat guards to burn the vials in which the alleged poison was stored.
The report also says, without providing evidence, that Dahlan stole $300 million the United States ¬sent the Palestinians to build a security force.
"There are false and baseless accusations of Abbas and his people, they are clearing Israel of Arafat's blood," Dahlan said Monday in a telephone call from Dubai. "If Abbas spent his time preparing for independence instead of fighting me, he would have won."
Arafat died in November 2004 under mysterious circumstances in France. Many Palestinians believe Israel poisoned him.
Dahlan was widely blamed by colleagues for the 2007 loss of Gaza to Fatah's rivals, the militant Hamas group, when he was the security chief in the seaside strip. He and Abbas have been feuding for months.
Dahlan has accused the Palestinian president of being a weak leader and of allowing his sons to benefit financially from his rule.
Fatah expelled Dahlan from the party in June because of his repeated criticism of Abbas, and Palestinian police recently raided his West Bank home.