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A group of senior Fatah officials from the West Bank recently began promoting an initiative aimed at persuading Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to remove his national security adviser and associate, Mohammed Dahlan. Jailed former commander of Fatah's Tanzim force, Marwan Barghouti, is among those urging the change.

The officials, all belonging to Fatah's Revolutionary Council, are demanding Dahlan's removal due to what they perceive as his failure to engage Hamas militarily in the Gaza Strip and prevent the organization from ousting Fatah from power there. In the last few days, Hamas has completed a bloody takeover in the Gaza Strip leaving dozens of people dead.

Palestinian sources said that the subject came up at a meeting of 20 council members in Ramallah on Sunday. According to sources, some of the council members said they believed that Dahlan should be relieved of his duties as part of Fatah's efforts to regain strength on the Palestinian street.

Among those attending the meeting were Jibril Rajoub, Ahmed Ghanem, Mohammed al-Horani, Samir Shehada, and other prominent Fatah members. "We hope that Dahlan will be removed," one of the participants said. "We hope this will help stop the atrocities that Hamas is perpetrating in the Gaza Strip.

Dahlan is among those responsible for this debacle, and even his own men are saying that he had deserted them along with Fatah's top-brass in the strip."

Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences in Hadarim Prison, released a statement from prison yesterday in which he demanded that Fatah's leadership in the strip be replaced with other operatives currently in the region.

Barghouti called for removal of the heads of all Fatah security organizations in the strip. His associates later explained he had meant Dahlan and his men, who fled the strip during the hostilities with Hamas, and headed for the West Bank.

Dahlan's associates, however, said that he and Barghouti were on good terms, and noted that the latter's call did not name Dahlan as one of the security chiefs who had to be replaced.

Abbas yesterday announced dispersal of the Palestinian National Security Council following the dispersal of the Palestinian government, formerly headed by Hamas' Ismail Haniyeh.

It appears that Abbas intends to appoint a new council that will be headed by Haniyeh's replacement, independent politician Salam Fayad, and newly appointed ministers.